WELLSBURG , West Virginia. (Nov 3, 2014) – For years the Brooke County Council PTA has helped to clothe local children in need, working with school officials to have them bussed to its clothes closet, where they have received assorted clothing and shoes.

But it’s sometimes been difficult to persuade students at Brooke High School to participate, said Principal Toni Shute, so the school is working with its PTA and many others to make clothing and food available at the school.

The school’s PTA and staff also are taking measures to help teens in need feel more comfortable about receiving help.

Shute explained that periodically male and female students will be invited to browse for clothing in two rooms in the vocational department designated B Men’s Wear and the Bruin Boutique in an effort to create the atmosphere of a clothing store.

Signs with arrows leading to the rooms identify the area as a Pay It Forward Zone.

“We’re trying to tell them, “we want to help you and all we’re asking is that some day you help someone else,” said Charlene Smith, a volunteer with the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association.

There also is a pantry by the rooms, where various nonperishable food and personal hygiene products may be packed in backpacks for the students to take home.

Shute said because the school’s homeroom teachers have the same students all four years, they get to know the youth pretty well and often know if one’s family is facing financial hardships.

And, they have been encouraged to ask students if they know of anyone who may need help, she said.

Shute and others said they know there is a need. About 35 students participating in the afterschool tutoring program established there in recent years also receive dinner.

She noted the food pantry will enable students to take food home with them for weekends and breaks.

Smith said the clothes closet operated by the Brooke County Council PTA in Wellsburg has aided more than 100 children so far this year.

Shute said the success in establishing the area, which she calls Bruins Helping Bruins, in a few months demonstrates to her there is some divine influence at work.

As it was being planned, she received a call from Mark Mazzella, a community coordinator with AmeriCorps, asking if she had a project in which volunteers with the group could take part.

The volunteers stripped and painted the rooms, solicited food and monetary donations and distributed fliers explaining its purpose.

Shute and Lisa Myers, president of the school’s PTSA, said many have donated labor, money or food for the effort.

Coat racks were donated by Barbara Beatty, owner of a former consignment shop. Shelves were made by Ralph Smith’s carpentry class at the school with boards recycled by from boards that were part of bleacher sections that had been removed earlier at Follansbee Middle School.

Rob Robinson, the school district’s facilities supervisor, supplied a refrigerator for the food pantry. And Two Brothers Dry Cleaning of Steubenville cleaned some donated coats at a discount.

Monetary donations were made by Weirton Medical Center, NC Sportz, Vito’s 2, the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce, Lombardi Development, attorney Mike Simon and donations of money, food and gift cards came from the Wellsburg Kroger store, Jackie’s Florist, Brooke Hills Park and several churches and PTA chapters.

PTA members also have volunteered to man the three rooms.

Linda Abercrombie, another PTA volunteer, said the group will continue to accept donations of clothing in all sizes and money, which can be used to purchase food, new underwear and other items that are lacking.

She added the clothes closet operated by the county PTA council in Wellsburg also is accepting donations, including coats for the winter.

Donations for the high school program may be dropped off at the school’s main office during school hours, while a drop-off bin has been established outside the council PTA council’s clothes closet at 26th Street and Pleasant Avenue.

For information, call (304) 670-7468.

Shute said, “No child should have to worry about anything but getting an education when they enter the doors of this high school or any school. We have children in poverty in Brooke County, and we must do everything possible to level the playing field for each one of them.”

“The education of Brooke’s students has been strengthened because of our business leaders, churches and community organizations and all of the wonderful people in the Ohio Valley.”

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