Angel Program helps struggling students adjust to high school

August 13, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

During the awkward adolescent phase that is high school, many teens just want to feel normal. That can be even more challenging for students whose families struggle to make ends meet.

That is why the Issaquah High School PTSA created the Angel Program a year ago, helping such students with donations of gift cards, school supplies and clothes to students in need, said Laurie Foreman, an Issaquah High School parent and co-chairwoman of the program.

“Maybe they just don’t feel like every other kid because they might not have a new pair of shoes or a backpack,” she said. “That’s where we step in.”

What began as a relatively simple effort to provide students with gift cards to Target and Safeway expanded to a more holistic approach, giving students anything that was identified as a need.

It began with clothes, and then as the year continued, it became prom dresses and tickets. Along the way, local businesses stepped up to offer medical services, such as dental or eye care.

“It’s a very generous community up here,” Foreman said. “People have more than enough, and they’re so willing to give.”

Issaquah business Studio B Portraits offered free senior photos for the Angel Program students, something owner Brooke Clark said was a “no brainer.”

“When you hear about what kids are lacking, if you can share something positive, why wouldn’t you want to do that?” she asked.

The highlight of the program was the creation of the Angel Closet, a nondescript room at the school where Foreman would set up racks of clothing and students could literally shop through the donated clothes.

The program collects donations of jeans, tennis shoes, sweatshirts, Issaquah High School logo wear and jackets for the closet.

“That was very popular and I feel like we’re really only at the beginning stages of that,” Foreman said.

Anonymity is key to making the program work, Foreman said. Students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch can approach school registrar Kim Michael to request assistance through the program.

“We didn’t want anybody, including myself, to know anybody’s name, so nobody would feel awkward at the high school level,” Foreman said. “You want these kids to feel normal and healthy about themselves, so the only person that knows is the school registrar.”

Angel Program coordinators are currently gearing up for the school year, soliciting donations of clothes and money that will make an impact on a young person’s life.

They are also looking for local businesses willing to donate their services to Angel Program students.

“It’s a pure joy and privilege to work on because most of us have a great life up here, but there are just a lot of kids that have a really difficult home life,” Foreman said. “If they can just feel a little bit better about themselves at school, then we’ve done our job.”

Get involved

  • Donate to the Angel program at www.issaquahhighptsa.org.
  • Businesses interested in offering their services, or people hoping to donate clothes, should contact Angel Program co-chairwoman Laurie Foreman at dsforeman@msn.com.

 

 

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