By MIKE McCOMBS
Lakinsha Swinton was excited. She couldn’t wait to get back to Beaufort County and share what she’d found.
The Beaufort County School District’s Director of Student Services, Swinton is a member of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. She was attending a conference in Anaheim, Calif., last November when Swinton’s interest was piqued by something discussed in one of her sessions – the app Purposity.
“I knew the moment I heard about it, this is perfect for us,” she said on the phone a couple weeks ago. “We live in such a generous community.”
Purposity, rolled out by the school district the second week in August, allows users to identify community members in need, in this case Beaufort County School District students, and make donations to help them.
School district social workers and parents who know families who need specific things will forward those needs to the school district’s Office of Student Services.
Just identifying those needs is progress. Often these needs slip through the cracks. And those who could or would help, simply never get the opportunity.
A perfect example are the needs related to “the number of homeless kids that live in the community that the community might not know about,” Swinton said.
Now, the Office of Student Services will review those needs and transmit them to Purposity. And from there, Purposity users can help – anonymously – address those needs.
Swinton, excited, wanted the app to be well received and used appropriately. So the school district didn’t rush to commit to the program.
Instead, Swinton spent a lot of time in a lot of conversations with, not just school leaders, but community leaders across the county. A long list. They discussed the process and what the app could mean for the community.
“It’s been something that I’m very proud to see our community rally behind,” Swinton said.
Swinton doesn’t want the community to think the district is just asking for anything. But she is clear that a lot of needs can be filled.
She gave an example of a student somewhere else that was living in a homeless shelter but wanted to go on an eighth-grade field trip with her class. Purposity allowed those who could to help the girl get things she needed associated with the trip.
The app covers anything from school supplies to school uniforms to an alarm clock to an umbrella to needs at home.
“There is no limit to what can be posted as long as it is a benefit to those in our community,” Swinton said. “The needs are submitted at the school level, approved at the district level, and then the Purposity is kind of that third set of eyes to look at it.”
The only real restriction is that whatever is posted must be available through one of Purposity’s partners, such as Amazon.
But the result is people who want to lend a helping hand to those in their own community who need it can now do so. You know, that whole helping your neighbor thing.
Needs are vetted. There’s no one panhandling all day and living it up that night.
And the people on the receiving end are children. They didn’t create their situation.
Too often in the news business, we are often accused of sharing only the bad news.
That’s not so, here. What Swinton and the school district and people who help out the students in our community who need a hand are doing … if that’s not good news, then I don’t know what is.
Swinton initially hoped for 500 followers in the first month for Beaufort County. The district is already at 660.
“I didn’t necessarily have a goal,” Swinton said. “For me, I just wanted to see needs being met. If we’re meeting needs, I’m happy, regardless of the number of users we have.”
“Any amount of good is a good thing for our community.”
Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News. He can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.
Download the Purposity app from the App Store or Google Play, input your contact information and location (Beaufort County), then look under “Organizations,” then select and follow “Beaufort County Schools.”