Mason City business leadership group starts “care closet” program for schools to provide essential hygiene items

MASON CITY — The Leadership North Iowa Group that’s part of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce completed a community impact project on Wednesday, delivering essential hygiene items that were collected for students in the Mason City Community School District.

John Adams Middle School, Mason City High School and the Mason City Alternative High School will keep donations in a “care closet” which will provide a safe and confidential place for students to get what they need.

Cathy Spotts is a counselor at the Alternative High School and says there is a demand for such items throughout the school district. “There’s just a lot of poverty in Mason City, and I guess I didn’t really realize that until I got into the school system. I guess I’m not quite sure of the percentage right now, but there’s just a need of basic stuff, the shampoo and laundry detergent, and deodorant. There’s just a high need out there.”

In addition to purchasing a large stockpile of necessary supplies, the leadership group is using additional funds raised to help purchase washers and dryers to install at John Adams Middle School for student use. Spotts says it’s a needed service for lower-income students. “You just forget that the water gets turned off when the bills don’t get paid. You and I might not even think of that or even fathom something like that, but there are people out there in Mason City that can’t pay their water bill, let alone buy a washer and dryer. That was a big help.”

Spotts was pleased to learn that many businesses that made initial donations want to follow up in the future with future assistance.   “It’s just so overwhelming to me. I’m just so grateful that our community has come together for this cause.”

Allison Verstegen of First Citizens Bank is part of the Leadership North Iowa group. She talks about why the group decided this should be their community impact project.  “We had the counselors and the social worker came in and they really shed some light on how great of a need this was in our community. I don’t think any of us were aware of the volume of kids that don’t have these basic hygiene supplies. You just don’t think twice about buying for yourself, and they have none of them. I think that really inspired us to work hard for it.”

Verstegen says the group was happy with the donations they were able to get as well as long-term commitments from local businesses.  “It’s been a wonderful show of support from the community from leadership like our businesses have really stepped up and supported us through it, so it’s been awesome support.”

Leadership North Iowa originated in 1983 as a program of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce that provides leadership training for up-and-coming business professionals from the north-central Iowa area.