With Gratitude from Westbrook Middle School

Warm winter boots have been identified as a major need among children in Maine. Perhaps no one understands this need better than our local school districts. Since 2019 our friends at Westbrook Middle School (WMS) have been recipients of boots, courtesy of the Joe Bornstein Winter Warmth Drive. When JCA’s Volunteer Manager, Adam Seigel, first reached out to school social worker, Kristin MacLeod, about participating in the program, they enthusiastically said yes and knew that it was a program that would have a great impact on many students.

Westbrook Middle School serves 5th to 8th graders from the town of Westbrook. With more than 700 students, 147 of whom are multilingual, 24 that are homeless, and 192 that receive special ed services, the needs of their community are not small or simple. One of the school’s hallmarks is the connections they foster between staff and students/families. Everyone works hard to make it feel like a collaborative partnership so that when there is a need, everyone is on the same page and able to access and assist to support the child and their family.

Staff created a space within the school called the Falcon’s Nest. Items such as coats, clothing, school supplies, food, period products, and winter boots are stored here. It’s made known to the entire student body that should they need something; the Falcon’s Nest is available to them and all they need to do is ask. All the boots that were donated from the Joe Bornstein Winter Warmth Drive end up in the Falcon’s Nest. Students come and take boots over the course of the winter and every year, the JCA resupplies WMS with more boots. Kristin MacLeod would doubt that you’ve ever seen such gratitude, noting that there “isn’t a word wall big enough to show how grateful we are.” As simple as it may seem, giving winter boots to kids provides them with the access they need to be ready for the rest of the day, participate socially with their peers, and opens a world of opportunities while allowing them to be safe and healthy.

So, every year, when we call on our community to participate in making donations to the Joe Bornstein Winter Warmth Drive, take comfort in knowing that all the boots purchased and donated are given directly to kids who need them. Not only that, but there is tremendous gratitude for the continued support shown to the kids in our community. The folks at Westbrook Middle School are doing amazing work as they support each of their students while aiming to provide each of them with everything they may need to succeed in life. Especially a pair of boots to make it through a cold Maine winter.   

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