There’s a small office near the front of Borah Elementary that has closets full of clothes for students that need them.
Shoes and boots of all different sizes fill tubs while gloves, socks and underwear occupy the shelves. Boys and girls clothes, winter coats and backpacks fill the rest of the space.
The Locker Project — funded by The Coeur Group, a group of local businessmen who do community projects — provides students with clothing items they might need, but might not be able to afford.
Since 2006, The Coeur Group has been installing and stocking “lockers” in Coeur d’Alene schools. The project started when the group was contacted by Coeur d’Alene High school. The school had many students who were homeless or couldn’t afford new, clean clothes, especially around winter time.
Now, 15 schools have lockers.
“Each school’s needs are different,” said The Coeur Group president, Dustin Ainsworth. “There’s a Coeur Group ambassador for each school who keeps in touch to see what their needs are.”
Borah Elementary School has had its locker project for about five years. School counselor Adam Foote said about 10 to 15 percent of the student body uses it.
“I had a girl and her sister come down. One of the teachers tipped me off that they were homeless; their family was living out of a motel room and they needed fresh clothes,” Foote said. “The older sister didn’t want to take anything. It was a hard time in her life and it was hard for her to accept help.
“But ever since she got the clothes, she runs up to me in the hall and gives me a big hug.”
Foote said the locker at Borah Elementary goes through gloves really fast. Shoes can be an issue, too. If the school doesn’t have the right size for one of its students, it will
contact another school in the district to see who does.
Coeur Group member Matt Anderson tours each school with the principals and counselors to determine the best place for the locker. Once a location is decided upon, he takes measurements and gets donated materials from his family’s company, Tapley Cabinet Works.
The Coeur Group builds the shelving or closets that are needed and helps the schools install them.
The Coeur Group’s goal has been to build lockers at two schools each year and present the school with $2,000 to buy an inventory. This year, The Coeur Group gave lockers to Ramsey and Atlas elementary schools.
On top of the startup costs, The Coeur Group also gives each school with a locker $500 each year to maintain it.
Borah Elementary School Principal Rick Kline said the locker gets a lot of use and he’s thankful The Coeur Group sticks around.
“It’s easy to come into a school, build the lockers and say ‘here you go,’” Kline said. “But these guys are great. They see our needs and help supply the locker. They see it through.”
The Coeur Group donated $6,500 to the Locker Project at Borah Elementary School on Friday. Pictured from left: Coeur Group members Matt Anderson, Matt Hague, Dustin Ainsworth, Borah Elementary School counselor Adam Foote and Coeur Group member Bobby Myers.