April 3, 2017
By Tara Gibb, AmeriCorps Promise Fellow serving at Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists
I have become very aware of the need at our school to find ways to support our youth as far as even their basic needs are concerned. One student in particular really touched my heart and inspired me to want to do something to help our students get the warm winter clothing and shoes that they need. This young lady would talk to me about her love for thrift store shopping and her hope that she could get enough money together to buy a coat before the really cold weather would set in. I knew what a daily struggle it was for her to be able to gather enough change to buy food let alone clothing.
She inspired me to work with our school’s student council and my focus list students to create a clothing swap event in which students, families and faculty could donate coats, clothing and shoes that would be set up to imitate a thrift store in our cafeteria. The students were then able to come to the event and take a bag of clothing free of charge.
The event went off without a hitch and all of the students who came had a great time and went home with lots of warm weather items. The highlight for me was to see the joy on the face of the student who inspired it all. She not only gave back to her school community by working hard alongside me to sort clothes before the event and to set everything up on the tables in the cafeteria, but she was also able to receive the help that she needed and bring home several bags of clothing, a coat and a pair of boots! That alone made all of the time and energy invested worthwhile!
[From “Voices From the Field: Reflections from Minnesota Alliance With Youth’s AmeriCorps Members.” Spring 2017.]