Lending a Hand to Students in Need

Website that helps students with school supplies and other necessities expands to Kalispell

By Justin Franz
School supplies. Beacon File Photo

A website that helps students in need obtain school supplies, clothing and other necessities to succeed in class is expanding to the Flathead.

Great Falls-based MyStudentInNeed.org recently established a partnership with Kalispell School District 5, and Executive Director Kim Wombolt said it’s already helping kids in need here. Teachers can log on to the website and request items on behalf of a student.

“Teachers are on the front line,” Wombolt said. “They know when students need shoes or even a whole wardrobe.”

Members of the public can browse the needs of each student by school and support the projects they want. For example, last week, a high school student at the Linderman Education Center needed a futon because she is living on her own and doesn’t have a place to sleep and study. At Hedges Elementary, a young boy needed a new pair of winter boots. The identity of the child is never revealed publicly or to the donor.

“These kids can get help, all the while maintaining their dignity,” Wombolt said.

Donors can either give gift cards to cover the cost of the item or donate a used item, so long as it’s still in good condition.

MyStudentInNeed.org began in 2013 as a spinoff of MyNeighborInNeed.org, a local Great Falls charity site. The charity started with a few schools in the Great Falls area and within three years expanded to more than 70 across Montana. This fall, its number of partner school districts has skyrocketed, and as of this month, there are 130 schools working with the site.

School District 5 Family/Student Advocate Nichole Heyer worked with Wombolt to bring the idea to Kalispell. Heyer said she likes the program because everything goes to the children (Wombolt said the website accepts other donations/grants to help cover administrative costs).

“I can’t believe something like this hasn’t been done before,” Heyer said. “It just makes so much sense.”

In the first few years, the website has helped about 500 students annually. Wombolt said she is hoping to help 750-1,000 children this coming school year.

Wombolt said her organization fills just about any need, including beds, clothing, shoes, coats, winter boots, hats, musical instruments, backpacks, food, sports equipment and more.

For more information visit www.mystudentinneed.org or call (406) 750-2542.

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