HAZEL GREEN, Ala. (WHNT) — A closet inside Hazel Green Elementary holds significant meaning as it honors the legacy of one of its own.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Caring Link dedicated a new care closet at the school in memory of Kristen Masterski, the social worker from Madison County Schools who passed away in November of 2022. 

Those who knew Masterski best say she was passionate about meeting the needs of area students in whatever way possible, helping them to feel cared for and respected. Her legacy of love and compassion lives on through her two children and in the updated Kristin Masterski memorial closet – supported by The Caring Link.

“The items in this closet are going to be new clothing items, shoes, all kinds of toiletries for hygiene, school supplies, and we also have some comfort items for students that are in transition…such as going to foster care or if they’ve had an emergency situation,” The Caring Link President Kate O’Neal said.

The closet serves grades Pre-K through 5th graders.

Masterski was the co-founder of the school’s initial pop-up shop, which functioned as its care closet for many years and provided essential resources for students throughout the community.

“It was her dream to have a care closet at every school in the county and knowing Kristin…she probably wanted to put one in every school on the planet because she was a big dreamer, and she had a big heart. That was seen in the way she approached her students and colleagues in making sure their needs were met,” added O’Neal. 

The school’s principal says the closet has already served some of its students.

Hazel Green Elementary School Principal Angela Toyebo says, “We had a first grade student whose (I’ve noticed in the last couple of weeks) shoes are way too big. At first, I started asking him if he’d like us to check if we had any extra shoes – and he said no.”

Toyebo says she had an opportunity this week to ask the young man again if he wanted to look at the shoes that the closet had.

“He finally agreed to that. He got to try them on. He put them on, and they just happened to be the ‘light-up’ kind! He was really proud! He was strutting down the hall, feeling good about it,” replied Toyebo. 

There are currently seven care closets in different schools throughout the school district.

If you’d like to volunteer with The Caring Link or donate, visit this link