Indiana schools use app to connect students in need to community donations

Low-income students may struggle to meet basic needs, such as new clothes and shoes. Without them, students may find it harder to fit in and feel comfortable at school. Schools in Perry Township in Marion County are trying to ease the burden by partnering with a mobile app that lets community members find out what students need and buy it, all in a way anonymous.

“It is very helpful for our students to remove some of the barriers that prevent them from going to school because they are embarrassed by their clothes or their shoes or they do not have the tools they need to regulate their diabetes,” said Stephanie Quinlan, Perry Schools Assistant. Director of Students.

The app, Purposity, is used to connect students with items such as clothing, shoes, and underwear. Donations also supported the purchase of detergent and hangers so that a student could do their family’s laundry at school.

The district has been using the free app for about two months. By April, about 25 students in Perry Township had been helped, but nearly 25 needs were still listed on the app.

Why Students Need Specific Gifts

According to state data, 71 percent of students in Perry Township received free or reduced meals last year, the national standard for calculating child poverty. The statewide rate is 46% of students.

Although Quinlan said she appreciates the food and used clothing donations they receive, that’s not always what the students need.

“It’s great to be able to help those with a specific need, rather than just giving a case of green beans,” Quinlan said. “Which is useful when we get to that time and our pantries use it. But sometimes it’s easier to give food. It’s harder and it’s harder to get it.

A child’s needs are displayed on the app because a student approaches a teacher, or a social worker or educator has noticed that a student may need certain items. have closed-toe sports shoes, so they cannot participate in physical education. But this was quickly resolved thanks to community support through the Pursosity app.

Purposeful donations also supported a family who lost most of their clothes and possessions in a house fire, as well asdiabetic medical equipmentfor an elementary school student who is now able to have more free will when taking his own ketone and blood sugar levels.

How the Pursity app works

The district posts a story on the app about an anonymous student or family and explains the specifics they need. Then, a community member can choose to anonymously fulfill that need based on the location, item, or cost of the request. All the needs listed by Perry Township are between $15 and $100.

“I liken it a bit to a marriage registry where you can sort of get a list of the needs we have here in Perry Township and decide which ones you want to meet,” Quinlan said.

After someone pays for an item on the app, it’s shipped from Amazon to the school district. This process allows students to receive the exact color and size a child needs, while limiting the storage space the district must set aside for donations.

Other school districts in Indiana that use Purposity include Lawrence Township, Washington Township, Irvington Community Schools, Danville Community Schools, Hamilton Southeastern, Westfield Washington Schools, Lebanon Special School District.

Contact WFYI education reporter Elizabeth Gabriel at [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @_elizabethgabs.

Copyright 2022 WFYI Public Radio. To see more, visit WFYI Public Radio.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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