Catie Bisson was a 2008 graduate of Lowell High School who succumbed to a chronic heart ailment in 2010 while a sophomore at Bridgewater State College. I got to know Catie a bit while she was at Lowell High: She and my son Andrew were both in the band and I spent a lot of time chaperoning band events. Whatever her medical condition, Catie didn’t let it keep her from fully participating.
Like so many others who pass through the Lowell Public Schools, Catie became acutely aware of the poverty and difficult living conditions that were the daily reality faced by so many of her classmates. She shared her observations and her determination to do something to help with her family who, after Catie’s passing, established “Catie’s Closet”, a charitable organization with the mission of providing students with fundamental necessities (i.e., clothing and related items) so they’re better prepared to focus on education. In the beginning, Catie’s Closet was an actual closet at Lowell High but it has now spread to six schools in Lowell and three in Hudson, New Hampshire. Catie’s Closet has an informative website but to save time, just send your check in any amount to Catie’s Closet, 149 Pleasant Street, Dracut, MA 01826.
Ann-Marie Bisson, Catie’s mom and the driving force behind Catie’s Closet (and the assistant vice president for financial education at Lowell’s Jeanne d’Arc Credit Union) recently sent the following update on Catie’s Closet:
Dear Friends & Supporters of Catie’s Closet,
During this holiday season, we would like to express our most sincere appreciation for your generous support of Catie’s Closet throughout the year. We have experienced tremendous growth this year and now have 9 closets in Lowell and Hudson, NH. Over 500 students and their families have been the recipients of clothing, shoes, toiletries and bus passes.
In November, our new website, expertly crafted by Sublimagery, was launched!
If you haven’t checked it out, pop over to www.catiescloset.org
Our current needs are $25 gift cards to either Market Basket or Target. We have 110 extremely needy students at Lowell High School who would greatly apprecaite a nice holiday dinner and maybe a few gifts. All donations made by December 14th will be used to help fund this initiative.
We are also in great need of winter coats, hats, gloves/mittens and hoodies.
Save the date! Our 2nd Annual Gala Event will be held on March 23, 2013 at the Andover Country Club.
Sponsorship opportunities are available! Check out our website in January for specific information.
In closing, I’d like to share these comments with you from our school social workers:
“The boy who got the sweat pants was so happy. You would have thought he got a million dollars!”
“I just wanted to write you a quick email to say thank you from all of us for establishing Catie’s Closet at the Laura Lee. The first student that utilized the closet was so excited and grateful for the stuff he was given. He was most excited about the sneakers, body wash and deodorant.”
He said, “I love how that smells!”
“A student was brought to me because he really needed shoes. I brought him to the closet, but explained it was new and we didn’t have shoes yet. There was one pair of sneakers in the closet and they were a perfect fit. Ah, Karma!”
Wishing you all a joyous holiday!
Anne-Marie Bisson & the “elves” at Catie’s Closet