Neenah High School's Orbit closet helps students in need

Posted: 7:35 PM, Nov 02, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-02 23:42:02-04
Senior Haafsah Fariduddin spends hours organizing the Orbit closet at Neenah High School. It's a safe, confidential place where students in need can shop for free.
"I have friends and classmates, and you see them struggle sometimes, and to know that I'm helping out in some way with the school and helping out in some way that they can better themselves, it really feels nice," says Fariduddin.
After hearing about a similar program at Sheboygan South High School, Spanish teacher Shelley Aaholm helped bring the Orbit closet to Neenah three years ago.
"We serve students almost every other day here for different things, I mean anywhere from clothing to food to just get them through the weekend," explains Aaholm.
From toothpaste to cleaning supplies, peanut butter and shoes, all the new and gently used items are donated by the community. The Orbit closet serves about 100 students a year in the Neenah School District.
"Some of them are living in hotels or motels. Some of them are living out of their cars. Some of them are in shelters," explains Neenah School Counselor and Homeless Liaison Chris Christensen. 
She says it's wonderful to help take some of the worry away from struggling students.
"I think it's a huge relief. I think a lot of times when kids come to school, we want them to focus on education, but they're not there. They're thinking about what they may eat the next day or where they're going to sleep and things like that, that we just take for granted."
Aaholm adds, "Our hope is that they know that somebody cares, that they know that they're not alone. That somebody is out there that can cover them, that we've got your back."
This year, the senior class chose the Orbit closet as the recipient of their annual homecoming fundraiser. They collected more than $7,000, plus donations of canned goods and clothing, to keep the closet stocked.
"It's really amazing to see how much the community has come together to support an organization like this," says Fariduddin. 
It's a program she's proud to be a part of to bring comfort to her classmates.
If you'd like to make a donation to the Orbit closet, click here for a list of items they currently need.
Neenah High School is also holding its annual Helping Hands Art & Craft Fair on Saturday, November 5th from 9:00am to 3:00pm. The $2 per person admission fees will benefit students in need.