HUDSON — When Ellen Hummer, a semi-retired substitute teacher at Montgomery Smith Elementary School, noticed that one of her students was wearing shredded shoes, she immediately knew to call Eleanor Kinney.
Kinney, a longtime community social worker and teacher, is known throughout the city for helping lower-income families during times of need. She also happens to be the mother of one of Hummer’s former third grade students.
Kinney was a teacher at Head Start, an early childhood development program, and now is employed as a social worker for Providence Hall in Hudson.
On a frigid morning, after recovering from COVID-19, Kinney drove more than 15 large bags and boxes of both new and donated shoes, socks, hats and coats to the elementary school.
It was well below freezing, but Kinney didn’t mind. The thought of young students facing the winter without proper apparel brought her to tears.
“I’ve been low-income myself, so I know what it feels like,” said Kinney, who spent $50 at WalMart on new shoes and socks to add to the pile of donations she collected from other community members.
Kinney pulled up to the school in a black Jeep, kept the engine running and waited for Hummer to arrive with some staff to help bring the clothes inside.
After a few minutes, Hummer, Montgomery School principal Mark Brenneman and physical education teacher Joe Nero came out to help. They needed a hand truck to accommodate the bags and boxes.
Kinney turned to Hummer before opening the trunk and asked, “You sure you’re ready for this?”
Hummer responded: “Are you kidding? I was born ready.” They both chuckled.
Kinney’s back seat and trunk were filled to the brim with donations. She estimated that there must be at least 100 pairs of shoes.
The staff brought the bags into the atrium of the school and thanked Kinney extensively.
“Schools have always been a place to help kids in need, but the community always is incredibly generous,” Brenneman said.
The donations will not only help students from low-income families but also provide proper apparel to students who forget their shoes during physical education classes. Brenneman said.
Hummer will organize the donations and place them on shelving near the school’s gym. Instead of giving students information on how to access the donated items, Hummer said it is up to the teachers and staff to connect directly to students.
“The teachers know which students are most in need,” said Hummer.
As Kinney was leaving she turned to the staff and said, “Anytime you need me again, I’m here.”