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School of the Week: Elam Alexander Academy

The Kaplan family of Macon purchased new clothes to stock "Merrie's Closet" to help Elam Alexander Academy students in need.

MACON, Ga. — The United Way of Central Georgia is launching a closet to help students at a Bibb County school.

Elam Alexander Academy staff in Macon unpack the new clothes Mike and Nancy Kaplan brought to start Merrie's Closet, in honor of their daughter Merrie.

"We started in the exceptional children's program the special ed program out here at Elam Elementary. Merrie was part of the exceptional children's program and took great part in walking across the stage at Central High School to get her degree so we decided to start here," Mike Kaplan said.

With help from the United Way of Central Georgia and his wife Nancy, Mike purchased new clothes with a $10,000 donation from the foundation and delivered them to Elam's Treatment Coordinator Leah Watson.

"We had heard from some educators that there was a tremendous need in the Bibb County School System for kids who, by no fault of their own for different circumstances, didn't have the proper clothing to wear to school," Kaplan said.

"Shirts and pants and then socks and even underwear, so a little bit of everything has been brought to us. So it's a plethora of resources," Watson said.

Kim Westmoreland has been a special education teacher for 23 years. She shares one example of how Merrie's Closet would help her student.

"We've seen him come in with clothes that were too little, too tight. Maybe clothes that he didn't get to change very often, for whatever needs of the family, and you know as teachers, we try to pull out of our pockets and do what we can for them. So it's just nice to have this resource to help us with that," Westmoreland said.

Kaplan plans to replenish the closet as needed, so teachers can give their students what they need to learn.

"These kids are not going without. The teachers are providing it now, and we're trying to help the teachers. That's what we're all about," Kaplan said.

Merrie Kaplan was born and raised in Macon. She had Williams Syndrome.
She tragically died in 2019 at the age of 45.

The Kaplan family and the United Way of Central Georgia hope to expand "Merrie's Closet" to more schools.

If you'd like to donate to Merrie's Closet, you can visit the United Way of Central Georgia website.