Community closet stands as a beacon of support
By Stephanie Lowry
LUXEMBURG – In the heart of Luxemburg-Casco, a remarkable initiative is quietly making a significant impact on the lives of local residents.
Nestled in the Casco Career Academy, situated in the district’s former middle school building, is a community closet that stands as a beacon of support for those in need.
Spearheaded by Debby Liebeck, a Lakeshore Educational Alternative Program (L.E.A.P.) Paraprofessional, this resource provides free clothing, hygiene products and housewares to those in need.
The inception of the community closet was rooted in a collaborative effort between the L.E.A.P. program, student organizations, Luxemburg-Casco staff and a Bellin Resource Community worker.
The L.E.A.P. program itself focuses on a unique approach to teaching, emphasizing close student-teacher relationships and tailored curriculum to address individual needs.
Students engage in small-group classrooms with a singular set of rules, promoting a self-directed learning environment that encourages responsibility and self-management.
Liebeck was given approval from the district to involve L.E.A.P. students in the organization and maintenance of the closet.
“The district said, ‘Yes, you could give the students here in the L.E.A.P. program credits for sorting and going through the bags’ and helping me initially get it organized,” Liebeck explained.
Over a two-month period in 2022, L.E.A.P. students dedicated their time to sorting and organizing the donations, turning a chaotic pile of bags into a functional resource.
Liebeck shared, “So two months into it, we had it organized enough where we opened. And so then we open during the school day because of the doorbell – someone needs to unlock the door to let you in. People can come and take what they need as needed. It’s all free.”
Operating primarily during school hours, the community closet extends its reach by opening on select Saturdays, relying on volunteer support.
While community volunteers are restricted on school days, Liebeck emphasized that Saturdays are an open invitation for those willing to contribute their time and efforts.
Reflecting on the impact the closet has had, Liebeck recounted stories of individuals whose lives were touched by this generous initiative.
“We had a guy who was trying to get clean and sober, and so he needed some new clothes, and then he came back two months later, and he needed interview clothes. There’s a lot of farms out here too, and a lot of the families who work the farms go through clothes quickly, so they come here and get what they need,” Liebeck recalled.
Beyond clothing, the community closet also strives to provide hygiene products and housewares when available.
Liebeck noted that hygiene products are difficult to keep in stock and are always appreciated donations.
“We do have some hygiene stuff that we carry sometimes. Right now, it’s depleted, but the school last year did a hygiene drive so that stuff all came over here. And I had two ladies, maybe a month ago, they had rummage sales in the summer and put the money towards hygiene stuff,” Liebeck added.
She highlighted the challenges of spreading awareness about the availability of these resources, stating, “The hardest thing honestly is to get everybody to know that it’s available and here.”
Liebeck also emphasized that the items they are currently most in need of are snow pants, snow boots, jackets and other winter clothing due to the impending season.
Despite the hurdles, the impact of the Casco community closet is undeniable, offering a lifeline of support to those facing various challenges.
This community closet stands as a testament to compassion and collective support, proving that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a significant impact on those facing adversity.
To donate to the closet, items can be brought to the Casco Career Academy and monetary donations can be sent to the L-C High School office at the attention of Tara Zeal or Jerrell Kurowski.