Park City Education Foundation, Christian Center team up to clothe Park City’s cold children
Operation Snow Boot provides pop-up shops in every school in the district
Each year, when fall fades into winter and the weather turns cold, dozens of phone calls from teachers and counselors seeking help to clothe students who don’t have coats, warm pants or snow boots flow in from elementary schools to the Park City Education Foundation.
This winter, the stream of calls turned into a flood.
“This year, the need was far greater than anything that we could take care of in the way we’ve done in the past,” said Abby McNulty, executive director of the foundation. “And we were also getting phone calls from the high school — kids not having shoes and needing different things like sheets and towels and blankets.”
In response, officials from the foundation began brainstorming better ways to help needy students, rather than scrambling to confront the problem as it swells each winter. The end result is something McNulty is optimistic will make a difference in students’ lives for years. The foundation is partnering with the Christian Center of Park City on Operation Snow Boot, an initiative to put pop-up shops in all of the Park City School District’s schools, providing free resources — from winter clothing to hygiene products — for any student who needs them.
Funding from the Education Foundation will get the shops started, then the Christian Center will keep them stocked, based on requests for goods from each school’s faculty. Teachers and counselors will be able to identify students who need winter jackets or warm socks or anything else, then provide them — without having to spend time calling the foundation or anyone else for help.
The first shops are up and running at McPolin Elementary School, Ecker Hill Middle School and Park City High School, with others expected to become available in the rest of the schools within weeks, McNulty said. Each school’s shop will be personalized to reflect the needs of its student body.
“At the high school, kids need something different than at the elementary level,” she said. “I walk by the high school kids every morning, and they’re not even wearing jackets when it’s negative 10 (degrees) out because they don’t want jackets — they want hoodies, or they might need shoes. The needs are totally different.”
Maximo Ventura, emergency assistance and Latino outreach coordinator for the Christian Center, said the nonprofit is pleased to be involved with Operation Snow Boot. It lies firmly within the center’s mission to assist people at their point of need.
It’s vital, he said, that the children of Park City’s resort and hospitality workers — and other lower-income families who have little money left over after paying rent for even the basic necessities — have resources they can count on.
“Wherever we think we need to be to help, we’ll be there,” he said. “We are glad to be able to partner with (the Education Foundation) and the schools to make that happen.”
From McNulty’s perspective, the program promises to help underserved students learn, in addition to keeping them warm. When a child comes to school cold, without a jacket, they may find it difficult to concentrate on math or English.
Additionally, Operation Snow Boot will take some of the burden off the shoulders of teachers, who often take their own time and spend their own money to procure needed items for their students.
“That’s awesome, but the fact is teachers have so much on their plates,” McNulty said. “Let’s let them focus on what they’re best at, which is helping their children learn.”
Residents who would like to contribute to the pop-up shops can do so by donating goods to the Christian Center. They can also give money to the Park City Education Foundation and specify that their donation should be put toward Operation Snow Boot.
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.