Willow Bend Elementary School counselor Harman spears coat drive

Many students at Willow Bend Elementary School did not have warm coats for the winter. So a counselor at the school spearheaded an effort to make sure every child would be warm this year.

Randy Harman is a counselor at Willow Bend, where 73.9 percent of the students come from economically disadvantaged homes. Throughout the Frenship Independent School District, 35.9 percent of students come from economically disadvantaged homes.

Most students know by the time they reach junior high age to ask for a coat, Harman said.

“But some elementary kids come to school with just shirts on,” he said. That’s when teachers usually get involved, he said.

This year, he said the Lubbock Apartment Association was giving out coats for students without, but he said by the time FISD got to the scene, only thin jackets were left.

“That encouraged us to do our own coat drive here in the Wolfforth area, and it just went from there,” said Harman.

Harman said FISD Director of Professional Development and Public Relations Linsae Snider designed a flyer that went out to all of the schools requesting new or gently used coats for students without.

“Coats started coming in to our campus from everywhere,” he said. The American Legion Women’s Auxiliary brought in 32 new coats, he said, while a local church wishing to remain anonymous brought in 16 brand new coats. Several teachers from Willow Bend brought in coats which were just left hanging on his door each morning.

Students at several other FISD schools also started collecting coats. In the end, Harman said he had more coats than he needed for the students at Willow Bend and other students throughout the district. The surplus will be stored for next year, he said. If they are needed, he said, they’ll be available.

“The kids, they were just… to see their little faces, when they got a pink coat with a little fuzz on it, they were so fun to watch. And the guys, I got them camouflage coats, and they thought they were great,” said Harman. “These were nice coats, they weren’t little thin jackets.”

Harman said it sometimes seems he does more social work than counseling.

Another program he’s involved in at Willow Bend is a backpack program. He puts food in the backpacks of students who may not eat otherwise on the weekends. He puts in Pop Tarts, instant oatmeal, granola bars, canned goods, macaroni and cheese, and other easy-to-prepare meals in backpacks each Friday.

“We’ll put enough for each child in the backpack for the weekend,” said Harman. “That way, our kids always have a source of food for the weekends.”

About 14 families receive a backpack full of food each weekend, he said.

“If they say they need it, then I give it to them,” said Harman. “I know these families. None of them are trying to take advantage.”

Several sources help him to fill a pantry in the school with food for the backpack program, he said.

Harman said this same type of program has been in effect much longer at Frenship Middle School.

“Frenship is really blessed with loving people,” he said. “Every campus has staff members that take care of their kids, and no one ever knows.”

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