Treasure Chest gives to R-3 families in need, provides learning opportunities

Daniel and David Kirk came to the Platte County R-3 Board of Education meeting Thursday, Oct. 20 to provide a living example of how one district project has helped enrich lives of students in more than one way.

The Treasure Chest offers students the chance to help run a facility capable of providing food, clothing, toiletries and other home supplies for families of students in need. The Kirk brothers are two of nine students in a class teaching life and professional skills that keeps regular hours on Wednesday evening and during first hour on Friday mornings.

Daniel Kirk

Daniel Kirk

Donna Dickinson, teacher, offered each student a chance to tell why they enjoyed working at Treasure Chest. Daniel and David Kirk read theirs aloud to the board with big smiles.

“I like to put the clothes in the laundry. I like to put the toys in the counter,” Daniel Kirk said in part. “I like to put the hangers in the correct order from boys and girls clothes.”

“I like to hang up (the) clothes and go in my room,” David Kirk said. “I love to go down stairs and go up stairs. I like put in the laundry.”

An innovative idea helped turn a storage space into a center for community outreach.

David Kirk

David Kirk

In the summer of 2015, the Platte County School District turned the southern part of the old central office building — located between the high school and Dairy Queen in Platte City — into the facility, a concept from collaboration between district social workers, pupil services staff and interested parent and community volunteers. 

The organizers named the new facility the “Treasure Chest,” and the community turned out to officially open the facility with a ceremony in October of 2015.

“One of our primary objectives was to have this be a work site for students because we’re limited on places to get hands-on job skills,” said Dr. Jen Beutel, Platte County’s executive director of pupil services

Treasure Chest provides opportunities to various stakeholders of the district after social workers identified a greater need for resources designated for the whole family, beyond the child seen every day in school. The resource center serves three inter-related purposes: a place for community members to give and support families in need, a place for PCR-3 families who are disadvantaged by their economic situations to get necessary items and a place where volunteers can provide assistance in operating the center. 

Students who work there practice various employability and life skills including merchandising, daily living activities, sorting/arranging, visual and spatial math skills and managing an environment. The effort expanded into a larger portion of the building this year allowing for an expansion of services.

PCR-3’s five social workers have previously used various way to locate and store items families needed and would work together to distribute these items. Treasure Chest opened for families and donors on an appointment basis, but Beutel said the expanded Wednesday hours have allowed 22 families to be served in a span of three weeks. Appointments can be made by contacting any district social worker or the pupil services department. 

Barrels for donations to the Treasure Chest are located in each district building.

Items of greatest need include seasonal clothing and shoes, new socks and undergarments (primarily child sizes), personal care items (toiletries, diapers, etc.), shelf-stable food, laundry and dishwashing soap and basic housewares.