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Organization gives to ‘wellness closets’

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brooke Binns Samantha Murray, community relations representative for UniCare, speaks to Rochelle Chenoweth, principal at Jennings Randolph Elementary School, and Paul Zickefoose, principal at Beverly Elementary School, about services provided by UniCare during a wellness closet donation event.

ELKINS — In an effort to best serve students, the Randolph County Family Resource Network has donated items to be provided in health and wellness “closets” in schools across Randolph County.

A special presentation was made to all principals in Randolph County Tuesday afternoon to provide hygiene totes and information to officials in the county.

Items provided in the health and wellness stations included soap, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, hair brushes, feminine hygiene products, deodorant and socks, in addition to many other items.

Karina Shreve, representative for the Randolph County Family Resource Network, said hygiene totes can be used for the day-to-day needs of students, but the main goal is to provide them with the hygiene products they need at home.

Barb Crawford Tucker, health initiative coordinator for Region 7, emphasized it is important to build relationships with students in order to empower them.

UniCare presents a check in the amount of $3,000 to the Randolph County Family Resource Network to be used to purchase items for hygiene totes. From left are Natalie Robinson, Unicare marketing manager; Samantha Murray, Unicare community relations representative; Rebecca Vance, director of the Randolph County FRN; Karina Shreve of the FRN; and Joseph Arbogast, assistant superintendent for Randolph County Schools.

“When we empower a student to be able to come to school and increase their attendance and increase their probability to graduate, to increase their employ-ability potential — we are also empowering your community,” she said. “We know when we empower one student, we are also helping their entire family.

“When students come to us with a hygiene problem, we also know that they are going to come with us when they’re hungry. We know that they’re going to come to us when there is a big problem that they have to discuss,” she continued. “Building those relationships with students creates that safety net for that young person. When that safety net is there, then we can help them and their family out of whatever is happening in their house and onto resiliency.”

Natalie Robinson, marketing manager for UniCare, said it is necessary to meet the basic needs of students.

“We know that if their basic needs are not met, they’re not going to do well in school,” she said. “So, by providing these (items) we know that personal hygiene is met, we know it will help with their self-confidence, we know (it could) help with anti-bullying and bullying prevention and increase attendance and, hopefully, academic achievement.”

During the presentation to principals, UniCare offered a monetary donation of $3,000 to be contributed to the initiative.

Two students from Elkins High School, Caleb Martin and Jalen Floyd, helped to make the project successful by preparing totes to be dispersed to every school in Randolph County. Each tote was packed according to attendance numbers from each school to determine how many of each items may be needed at each school.

In addition to donations from individual community members, churches and other entities, this project was made possible by the FRN, Davis Health Systems, UniCare and the West Virginia Promise Grant.

Over the next few months, the FRN will be working with school officials to track the project to determine which items are most necessary and any items that may be lacking from the health and hygiene totes. Furthermore, donation boxes will be placed inside each school to help contribute to the project and continue to make the initiative sustainable.

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