ALEDO, Ill. — Bridget Hildestead is a custodian at Mercer County High School. Her colleague, Angie Owen, established the Eagles Nest donation closet in the school.
“Clothes, food, toiletries. She has gone and gotten donations. Other people in the school have helped set it up and gotten donations. And it’s just something she’s worked hard at for a long time and it’s for anybody in Mercer County," said Hildestead.
This is the official first year of the Eagles Nest and Hildestead could already see the impact it was making within the community. That's why she nominated Owen for the Pay It Forward award.
This is Owen's third year as a special education teacher for the high school. She had the idea last year to help her students and the community.
“We have a lot of students that have a lot of needs that can’t be met outside of school. So, I brought it in here to just provide resources," said Owen.
Resources like hygiene products to food to even formal wear for dances. She wants to make sure every student feels their best.
“Everybody have equal opportunity to learn and be in a good environment. You know you’re not gonna learn if you don’t have deodorant or running water at home. Like I just want to provide these things for those kiddos so they can be successful here at school," said Owen.
Giving students a trusted and safe space to be able to turn to for help has been extremely important.
“They can do it without other students knowing because it’s private. So, they don’t have to feel embarrassed or ashamed and they’re just really grateful and overwhelmed that we have these resources available to them," said Owen.
As for why Owen does it, she said it's just doing what's right. "It's just what you should do as a human. Just be kind.. that's all it is," said Owen.
The Eagles Nest is always taking donations of clothes, nonperishable food, and hygiene products. If you are interested in donating, you can reach out to Mercer County High School or through their Facebook page to get in contact with Angie Owen.
See previous Pay It Forward award winners:
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