Blake McDaniel reads constantly.
He recalled one clipping he read years ago that he filed into the back of his mind. It was a story correlating student attendance results and regular access to clean clothes.
The more he read, McDaniel began to realize students not having clean clothes led to bullying, low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. Students would come up with an excuse not to go to school or skip class entirely.
Then, McDaniel of Creative Artists Agency and a PENCIL Partner, came up with an idea to apply what he read in the clipping.
With the help of donors from J.P. Morgan Securities and Adams and Reese LLC, McDaniel has donated at least one brand new washer-dryer set to 12 schools in MNPS. The washing machines and dryers come with a five-year warranty.
If something breaks and it’s unable to be fixed, the washer and dryer company will send a new one.
“I’m just doing good things,” said McDaniel, who has been with CAA for nearly 20 years. “It’s that simple. When you work really hard and you’re fortunate, you have an obligation to make the world a better place and this is a cool way to do it, so this is what I’m doing.”
He first donated a washer and dryer three years ago, but in the past six months, McDaniel said he has taken donations into overdrive.
McDaniel and his team of donors recently delivered new washing machines and dryers to Antioch and Glencliff High School after connecting with the PENCIL school-based Family Resource Coordinators, Shannon Fitzpatrick and Bailey Tidwell, respectively.
“The FRC is able to support these students by having them bring a few items during the school day, and then they bring their clothing to me,” Fitzpatrick said. “I wash, dry and fold them and discreetly return their clothing before they get on the school bus at the end of day. This way, students are able to keep their dignity, continue to come to school daily and their families basic needs are being met.”
Fitzpatrick also said teachers in the Academy of Human Services are able to incorporate washing machines and dryers into their daily curriculum by teaching students how to wash and dry clothing, which gives them a life skill.
“This school has many students from different circumstances, so some children don’t have the means to come and clean clothes,” said Makala Daniels, an Academy Human Services teacher at Antioch. I definitely think that’s a good thing that they can come in here and wash clothes and not tell people because we’ll make it a part of the class. It warms my heart because I’ve been there.”