Noelle's Gift and Dow teaming up to help students in need

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There will soon be a way for principals and teachers at schools in the Sarnia and Chatham-Kent areas to quickly help students in need of food, clothing and personal care items.

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There will soon be a way for principals and teachers at schools in the Sarnia and Chatham-Kent areas to quickly help students in need of food, clothing and personal care items.

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Noelle’s Gift, a Sarnia-based charity already providing funding school principals can use to help students in need, is now working with Dow and Carpenters Union Local 1256 to build closets and stock them with food, clothing, toiletries, sanitary products and other necessities.

Plans are to deliver the closets to 72 schools in Lambton County and Chatham-Kent.

“It’s pretty exciting for us and Dow,” said Lynn Paquette of Noelle’s Gift.

“We’re hoping to put closets in every school that requires one.”

She said the closets will provide “immediate access” for students in need, compared to funding the charity provides school boards so principals or teachers can buy what a student needs, or provide the family with a gift card.

“If there is a child that doesn’t have boots, they can go to the closet and get boots, or a coat,” Paquette said.

Lynn Paquette (left), with Noelle’s Gift, is shown in this file photo visiting with pupil Mackenzie Sheppard during a breakfast program at P.E. McGibbon Public School in Sarnia.

The amount of the Dow grant isn’t being disclosed but it will allow the closets to be stocked initially and then schools will be able to use their regular Noelle’s Gift funding to restock the shelves, she said.

Local 1256 volunteers are helping build the closets and Dow volunteers have been purchasing items to stock them, and are also helping assemble them and deliver them to school.

Principals and teachers at the school will determine what supplies will be stocked.

“We already have 20 closets distributed,” Paquette said. “The carpenters are working on another 20.”

Noelle’s Gift, created in 2013 in memory of school teacher Noelle Paquette, approached Dow and applied for a grant it offers non-profits in the communities where it operates. The funding was approved early this year.

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“This year, Dow is celebrating 125 years and we have a strong legacy of charitable investment in our region,” Amy Cunningham, with Dow, said in a news release.

“Dow’s former Sarnia site was the company’s first international location outside of the U.S., and now that we have a site in Corunna we will continue to invest in this community,” Cunningham said.

She said company officials are excited to be working with Noelle’s Gift “to ensure our local students have the resources they need to succeed.”

Dow closed its chemical plant in Sarnia in 2008 but returned to the area in 2019 when it took over a former DuPont production site on Albert Street in Corunna.

pmorden@postmedia.com