As the winter months approach, the need for clothing and other essential household items rises. Many families every year struggle to make ends meet and provide for their children. However, for one elementary school in Lincoln, the community has stepped up to help out families in need.

Caring for Clinton, put on by the School of Natural Resources, is an annual donation drive that provides winter gear, clothes, household supplies, hygiene products and more for children and families in need at Clinton Elementary School, located just west of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus on Holdrege Street. 

The campaign runs through Dec. 12 and donations can be made in the main lobby of Hardin Hall, 3310 Holdrege St.

The donation drive began in 2007 and provides these basic necessities to the nearly 500 children who attend school at Clinton Elementary. Ninety-five percent of Clinton students qualify for free and reduced lunches, and a large percentage of the Clinton student’s families live in poverty compared to most of the city.

The drive has really grown since its start, according to Dee Ebbeka, a member of the Conservation and Survey Division with the School of Natural Resources.

“The whole thing has grown to the point that people collect things year-round with the intention of then giving them to this campaign,” Ebbeka said. “Others will designate part of their yearly charitable donations to Caring for Clinton.”

Andrew Little, chair of the community engagement committee within the School of Natural Resources, shared how important the donation drive is to him and the school he is a part of.

“The Caring for Clinton campaign is important because we [SNR] have the opportunity to help support our local community by providing critical resources to students,” Little said. “The campaign is just one example of the generosity that is ample throughout the Lincoln community.”

Clinton receives over $1,000 each campaign and around six to seven large bags of clothes according to Ebbeka. In 2020 and 2021, the drive raised $1,750 and $1,654, respectively, for the students of Clinton.

“There are so many wonderful people, not only with what happens with this group, but throughout the entire community that help families that are struggling with food insecurities or that need winter clothing,” said Linda Kern, family care coordinator for Clinton Elementary.

Kern stressed the vast importance of the campaign for the elementary school and the kids that attend it. 

“It is a wonderful thing for our families and students to receive clothing, coats, hats, gloves,” she said. “During this time of year, we know that it’s a time when people are needing protection from this cold weather.

Clothing drives such as this are not only important because they help ensure every student has a coat for the winter, but one that fits, according to Kern.

“By this time of year, there are students that have outgrown their shoes. The ones that fit them in the summer or fall no longer fit them. Same with their clothing, same with their socks, same with their coats,” Kern said.

The drive also provides some breathing room for families struggling to make ends meet, Kern said.

“Let’s say you’re able to provide a coat, hat and gloves for three children in a family. That frees up that family to use those funds to purchase clothing for younger children, or they can use that to buy food or pay utilities,” she said.

Kern also expressed gratitude for the Lincoln community and all those who step up to help people.

“Lincoln is an extremely generous community, and one that very often if you explain to people what you need, they are more than willing to step up and help,” she said. “We are incredibly grateful for the people that give us these donations and gifts.”