A local sorority is helping a St. Thomas middle school meet the needs of its students by donating basic hygiene products. More than a dozen members of Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae joined a presentation of gifts Tuesday morning to administrators at the Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School.
A generous supply of items used to stock a comfort closet appeared in a cardboard box decorated with the sorority’s Greek-lettered logo. Chapter President Shanika Charles said the donation was the group’s way of thanking Boschulte School for making space available for their organizational meetings.
BCB Principal Terrence Corbett welcomed the sorors and thanked them for their generosity. “I want to thank you very, very much. I know this partnership will go very far,” Corbett said.
Comfort closets have been springing up at schools across the United States, increasing in popularity since the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The goal is to provide discrete assistance for students who need help with grooming, clothing maintenance or experience a mishap during school hours that affects their appearance.
According to the middle school’s Assistant Principal Kifani Hendricks-Carey, staff members brought up the idea of setting one up at BCB. Hendricks is also a member of the Delta sorority chapter.
“We’ve been talking here at the school about things that we could do to assist our students, and in one of our meetings one of our staff members suggested a comfort closet. The main thread is that some of the students have hygiene issues and they’re lacking basic resources,” Hendricks said.
Hygiene is a subject regularly taught in middle school and junior high school when children are approaching puberty. At BCB, hygiene is introduced as part of the Health class. But the principal said there is also the chance for missed opportunities.
“Not every single child gets the Health class,” Corbett said. The principal said he also remembers other efforts led by the school’s dean of students and himself that gave students a chance to talk about body changes they had noticed as they moved into their early teens. Some of the student’s remarks showed administrators how simple directions — like how to use a washcloth — could give their students reassurance.
Corbett said the school already has some equipment it can put to use in case of emergency. Both administrators and sorority members are hoping the wider community will help sustain the comfort closet by donating additional supplies.
“We’re hopeful that the community will get involved; we’ll put it out there. We hope that we can expand it to other schools as well,” Hendricks said.
Delta’s alumnae chapter on St. Thomas has been active since 1988 and currently has 71 active members. Some of their other charitable efforts include hosting the annual Thanksgiving Day luncheon at the Lucinda Millin Home for the Aged and distributing Christmas gifts at the Lutheran Services Yellow Cedar Home in Anna’s Retreat.
The group also sponsors an annual Night of the Arts, raising money for the sorority’s scholarship fund.