Digby Regional High School has become one of the latest schools in the tri-county region to offer a free store to students on school premises.
The free store offers food, school supplies, hygiene items, etc.
Not only is this a new initiative for the school, but it is very student driven.
“In Citizenship 9 they are required to do a service learning project as part of their curriculum,” explains teacher Mandy Jackson, who says the students get to choose what they want to do.
“When we heard about Maple Grove’s (free store) they decided they wanted to open one up here,” she says, noting the Yarmouth high school is another school in the region offering this service to students.
The students involved in the initiative have been working on it since the end of October/beginning of November.
“They emailed Maple Grove and found out some information. They surveyed students to find out what is needed. They went shopping and picked things out. They wrote letters asking for donations from the businesses in the town,” Jackson explains.
Moving forward the school will continue to rely on donations, and it seems people are indeed willing to help. Even before the store officially opened members of the community – in addition to businesses – were dropping off donations at the school after hearing about the students’ plans.
When asked in the survey about the types of things they’d like to see at the store, students listed such items as deodorant, soap, shampoo, food and school supplies. Some listed clothing and blankets. Laundry detergent was also a big one.
Students involved with operating the free store then went out and made purchases, buying enough supplies of certain items to ensure they could also be of use to an entire family.
“We’re not just focusing on students but families as well,” Jackson says.
Student Madison Brown is one of the students who has been spearheading the free store initiative.
“I was really excited when we went shopping and bought all of the things,” she says. “I’m excited to see it make a difference.”
Asked about feedback from the students, she says when they surveyed the classes a lot of the students thought this was a really good idea.
She hopes to see more and more schools offer free stores, if they aren’t already.
“I hope other schools can learn from us,” she says.
They’ve also made sure that the space is place that students feel comfortable about using.
Like they do in the classroom, the Citizenship 9 students will continue to learn from this project.
“The students will continue to rework it to see how it benefited the students the most and see not only how can we sustain this until the end of the school year, but to keep it going every year after that,” Jackson says. “It’s starting out as their project, but we hope to see it continue every year and grow every year.”