Resources for students in need don’t intend to stop operations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Copa Closet, a resource of basic needs for K-12 children that is sponsored by Maricopa Unified School District, is still in operation and eager to help, according to Amber Liermann, a Maricopa High School counselor who operates the program with the help of volunteers.
“We provide the basic needs of students. That includes food, clothes, hygiene products and school supplies,” Liermann said. “School is the greatest protective factor for children, period.”
While social distancing is in effect and most operations are done virtually at the public-school level, Copa Closet is coordinating with the MUSD district office.
“If the need is identified, the district is using their resources, including Copa Closet, to meet those needs,” Liermann said. “The only thing that’s changed is that we’re not accepting donations at this time, and that’s because the school is closed.”
While Copa Closet has stayed operational during COVID-19 to help students in need, plans for the future and returning to normalcy are underway for the program. The program is expecting to see more volunteers once COVID-19 has passed.
“We already have some things in place prior to (COVID-19). We have gloves and hand sanitizer, which were already part of our program before any of this happened,” Liermann said. “Our volunteers used gloves, we’re encouraged to wash our hands and sanitize, so those will stay in place, and those supplies are provided by the school.”
Since its opening in 2018, Copa Closet has moved on from the use of cupboards to using three-fourths of a classroom at MHS. The program has seen more and more student volunteers, particularly from National Honors Society and JROTC students.
The program has since become a chartered club at MHS, upon student request during the current school year. Liermann anticipates more volunteers and increased motivation once COVID-19 precautions are lifted and students return to school buildings.
“Our donations will increase, student participation will increase, and that will continue to increase because we see students who come in and they may need something, but so many times those students will say, how can I participate? How can I help?” Liermann said.
Copa Closet has also seen support from MUSD’s administration as well as donations from the Maricopa community and local churches. The program partners with Jim Shoaf of Maricopa Pantry, F.O.R. Maricopa, and “Our Children Matter.”
Even before coronavirus, the impact of the program was very personal.
“This really tall, thin boy came in quietly,” Liermann said. “He was looking at jackets, and he found a black hoodie-kind of jacket, and he just turned around and gave me this huge spontaneous hug, and just walked out. Neither of us said anything to each other, but the smallest donation, to these students, you can see on their face that it’s not small to them.”
Copa Closet would like to thank the community of Maricopa for all their generous donations and support over their years of operations.
Call MUSD at 520-568-5100
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