BYRON, Minn. – Christine Jostock is the district social worker at Byron Public Schools.
She is just one of the staff members, along with school counselors, helping district families impacted by the shutdown.
The district sent out a ‘community note’ letting families know of all the resources the community and district can provide for families affected by the shutdown.
Jostock said recently, families have started coming forward asking for help. The biggest need being food, gas money, and help paying for necessary prescriptions.
“To have to make a choice between food and medication, that's not a choice people should have to make,” she said.
In addition to community resources like Channel One Food Bank and United Way of Olmsted County, the district has Bearpacks and Cyndi’s Closet.
Bearpacks is a year-round program that is being expanded to students in need because of the closed government. It provides students with food for the weekends and long breaks.
Cyndi’s Closet is a non-profit that partners with Byron High School to provide basic needs like shampoos, soap, and non-perishable food.
Jostock said the district started thinking of how to help as soon as the shutdown started. Describing the schools as the ‘hub’ of the community, she said it was only natural to help out.
“People send their kids here trusting we will love them, and take care of them, and educate them. We depend on parents for like volunteering and programs, “she said. “So, it’s natural that when things come up, we would find ways to support each other.”
Learning to ask for help or offer help in times of need is also teaching kids something they can’t learn from a textbook.
“We are teaching kids things other than reading, writing and math you know,” Jostock said. “It's the real-life living skills, how do you cope when things come up? Because life is not one straight easy line.