HANFORD — A new app for Kings County is making it easier for the community to help students in need.
The Purposity app creates a streamlined system for students to receive items they desperately need, whether it be a pair of shoes without holes, a softball glove or a new mattress to replace one that was destroyed in a house fire.
Stephanie Eggert, data analysis coordinator for the Kings County Office of Education (KCOE), first heard of the app about a year ago at a conference. After a lot of preparation and communication, she and KCOE launched the Purposity app in late August.
“The beautiful thing about the simplicity of this process is that it’s not just falling on the shoulders of educators, but using the community at-large as well,” Eggert said. “We believe that people are generous, they just need to know how to be generous, and Purposity solves that.”
School sites are appointed a staff member who posts student needs in the Purposity app with a description of what is needed and why. Followers then browse Kings County student needs listings and in order to fulfill a need, they select the item and buy it through the app.
Purposity staff will purchase the item through their own Amazon Prime account and ship it to the school site. Donors will receive a thank you note and picture of the recipient with the item without identifying the student. They will also receive a tax form to write off the donation.
The purpose of the app is to prevent the duplication of donations to students in need, or to keep unnecessary donations from piling up at Kings County schools.
“There might be a little girl who needs size 5 shoes and she likes the color purple, and somebody hears that and thinks, ‘I’m going to go buy the shoes’,” said Kings County Superintendent of Schools Todd Barlow. “Well, if someone else hears, then they might buy the shoes too, and all of a sudden you end up with three pairs of shoes of the same size and only two feet.”
Eggert partnered with three school districts to launch the app: Hanford Elementary, Lemoore Union High School and Lakeside Union Elementary School.
She hopes to grow partnerships to all 13 districts in the next six weeks, she said.
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“This is nothing we could’ve thought up ourselves in terms of offering for the needs of our students,” said Hanford Elementary School District Superintendent Joy Gabler. “In Hanford Elementary, we serve 6,000 kids and we have a poverty level of 84 percent of our students. We are excited to have been included in this first round to launch the app.”
Since the app launched, 21 needs have been posted and 20 of them have been met. There are about 360 followers so far, but the app needs more to be able to help more students, Eggert said.
While the app is free to users and KCOE, there are guidelines to how many needs can be posted at once. For 200 followers, Purposity allows for 25 to 50 needs a month. This means 25 to 50 items can be donated to local students and their families.
As follower numbers grow, more needs are able to be posted. This is to make sure that there isn’t a surplus of need listings that aren’t being fulfilled.
Eggert wants to get up to 1,000 followers when more districts are participating, she said.
It’s free to become a follower and there is no commitment to donate. The average item in the app costs $20 to $30 and the process is completely confidential.
“No one school can be identified; anonymity is important when you are giving things like this to families,” Barlow said. “They don’t necessarily want to be identified, but they need the help.”
Those who are interested can download the Purposity app for free on any smart device. Only an email and password are needed to create an account, and then users can follow KCOE in the app.
“In the school system, we encounter students and families who have needs,” Barlow said. “Everyone involved in education has gotten into it, to help people and make people’s lives better. Already you’re in a type of community that wants to reach out and help."