Undies For Everyone To Help Anoka-Hennepin School Students In Need
One visit to Heidi Geiss’ office in Coon Rapids and you’ll realize she and her co-workers are nearly surrounded by boxes of underwear.
“You don’t really understand how many pairs 10,000 of underwear is,” said Geiss, who since March has been a liaison with Anoka-Hennepin Schools’ Homeless Outreach and Prevention Education office. “It’s been fun, and it’s been really entertaining at the office to watch them come in.”
The underwear came rolled up, organized by size and gender, and ready for distribution, thanks to the national nonprofit Undies for Everyone.
The organization takes in donations, buys underwear and sends it nationwide to those, who, like Geiss, can help distribute them to those who need it.
“Between our back-to-school events, between our social workers in the buildings and my reaching out to them to let them know this is a resource, and also our welcome center, I think we’re not going to have any problem getting these underwear out and distributing them to the kids who want them,” she said.
Geiss acknowledged the challenges the school district — Minnesota’s largest — and its families have faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic more than three years ago.
“Families’ incomes have not increased with the rate that housing has increased, and so we’re seeing more and more families having to make choices between stable housing and continuing being able to feed their family or continuing to pay for other things families need,” she said. “We’re seeing an increase in the number of families that are experiencing instability in their homes.”
That’s where her office comes in by providing basic supplies for school and connecting families to food and meal resources. Geiss says the underwear is just one more opportunity to support those in need.
“I think it’s really, really awesome when we can offer something to a family that’s tangible, and say here, here’s an additional thing, along with a backpack and some school supplies that we can do to help bridge the gap for your family economically and maybe make things just a little bit easier.”