Green Glove Dryer, Consumers Energy donate glove dryers to Cassopolis

CASSOPOLIS — On Thursday, Karen Smoot spoke to a classroom of interested students at Sam Adams Elementary, explaining how her Green Glove Dryers would not only keep their gloves and mittens dry, but also keep their hands clean of germs and bacteria. She explained how her dryers included an antimicrobial additive, which meant sprays and harsh chemicals would not get on their hands in order to keep their hands and gloves clean. It was not beyond the understanding of one student that children can be a little destructive at times.

“If one of the dryers breaks, will we get a new one?”

“Yes, our company will replace broken ones for free. But you know what? As a mom, I made these so they wouldn’t break,” Smoots responded.

Karen Smoots is a 1994 graduate of Cassopolis Public Schools and the inventor of the Green Glove Dryer, a device designed to hold gloves and mittens open over classroom heaters and vents. On Thursday she brought dozens of boxes of her glove dryers to Sam Adams Elementary as part of a program with Consumers Energy.

The program with Consumers started as a pilot program in Jackson County. Consumers donated hundreds and thousands of Smoots’ glove dryers to classrooms so students could have clean, dry gloves and mittens during the winter. According to Smoots, the feedback from the program was so overwhelmingly positive that Consumers agreed to expand the program throughout the state, even to areas serviced by other energy companies.

“Consumers believes so strongly in the state and in our schools and our program that they said, ‘Yes, we will do even those schools that are not in our coverage area,’ like Cass and Berrien counties. Those are not their service areas,” Smoots said.

While the invention is hers, Smoots attributed all praise and recognition to Consumers for being so generous, and concerned with the wellbeing of Michigan children. The partnership program with Consumers extends as far as the Upper Peninsula, where 127 schools with about 26,000 students will benefit from the dryers.

For Smoots, the program is ultimately a “community health and wellness initiative.” She noted there have already been cases of hand, foot and mouth disease across the state.

“It’s all worth it if this product even remotely keeps kids healthy and in school,” Smoots said.

In districts like Cassopolis Public Schools, students are not allowed to go outside for recess without hats and mittens. For Smoots and Sam Adams principal Deb Stermer, the dryers are worth it simply for organizational tools that keep students going outside and active.

“It actually increases attendance time. It also keeps kids’ stuff organized,” Stermer said.

The multifaceted use for the dryers did not end with student health and activity, according to Stermer. The dryers, as Smoots’ invention, tie directly into Cassopolis’ recent curricular move toward project-based learning. The dryers are a concrete example of a Cassopolis graduate who went on to become an inventor and active participant and contributor to her home community.

“They just got to meet an inventor, who graduated from Cassopolis. These are the things we’ve been talking about,” Stermer said.

Dryers were donated for every single classroom at Sam Adams Elementary, with no expense to Cassopolis Public Schools.

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