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Coeur Closet distributes 3,000 pairs of socks to North Idaho school districts

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | December 15, 2020 1:00 AM

Local volunteers are working their socks off to give the gift of warm feet to students in need.

On Monday, Coeur Closet coordinators Paula Lyon and Polly Melendez distributed 3,000 pairs of new, cushy, quality Bombas socks to area schools.

The sock donation was made possible through a grant from Bombas, a philanthropic company that works with shelters, nonprofits and organizations across the country to help homeless and at-risk populations.

Coeur Closet, housed in the basement of Coeur d'Alene High School, serves students across North Idaho who may be in need of clothing or personal items, like new socks and shoes.

"If they have good footwear, they’re more likely to come to school," Lyon said. "We will spend money on a nice pair of shoes for kids. The shoes these kids come in wearing sometimes don't have a sole on the bottom, or they're four sizes too big."

Started as the Viking Vault in 2006, Coeur Closet has expanded into a nonprofit that works to fill needs of more than 1,000 North Idaho students and families each year. Lyon and Melendez are volunteers who both have experienced the death of a son. In honor of their boys, they devote their time and talents to help at-risk youths and those struggling with poverty. Lyon took over the closet in 2012 and Melendez joined soon after.

"We've had to buy students beds because we found out they were sleeping on the floor on an air mattress,” Melendez said.

Coeur Closet items are available to all students, but have been especially helpful for homeless families, foster children and students with special needs. The closet also helps prepare older students for the workforce by providing them with new, clean, professional clothing.

The nonprofit encourages cash donations to ensure new, quality items are available for students when needed. School staff members keep tabs on which students could benefit from this resource and privately refer them so their dignity is respected.

"We buy kids new, relevant clothing," Lyon said, adding that new clothes can work wonders for a young person.

"Our principal tracks it," she said. "What they see is the kid's attendance increases, and grades go up."

Venture High School Principal Teresa Kaiser said she and her school very much appreciate having Coeur Closet as a resource for students. Venture received socks as well as a few jackets and coats.

"The COVID crisis has been really hard for many of our students," she said. "We have a number of hardworking families that are struggling to make ends meet. This donation helps us provide warm winter clothing for kids who really need it. Especially now with the weather change, these warm clothes will be greatly appreciated by students and families."

Info: paulalcoeurcloset@gmail.com

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Courtesy photo

Venture High School counselor Rachelle Smotherman, right, accepts donations of new Bombas socks and other clothing from Coeur Closet coordinators Polly Melendez, far left, and Paula Lyon on Monday. Coeur Closet is a nonprofit that provides clothing and other personal items for North Idaho students in need.

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Courtesy photo

A donation of 3,000 socks from the Bombas apparel company was distributed to area school districts by Coeur Closet coordinators Paula Lyon and Polly Melendez on Monday.