(Posted Oct. 4, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Racks packed with jackets. Shelves stacked with pants and shirts. Cubbies brimming with shoes, socks, and underwear. All of it new, and all of it waiting to make students in need more comfortable and confident so they can focus on learning.
On Oct. 3, a ribbon-cutting marked the official opening of the Raider Rack, a free clothing store for London City Schools students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Stocked with donations from the community, the store is located in former classroom space on the second floor of London Elementary.
Melissa Canney, the district’s student support specialist, coordinated creation of the Raider Rack as one more way to clear barriers students face.
“We have great facilities, teachers, and technology. We asked, ‘What else do students really need to succeed?’” she said of the inspiration.
Canney pointed to new ways the district is meeting students’ social, emotional and practical needs–a mental health counselor, mentorship programs, and a partnership with non-profit Sufficient Grace to provide students with food outside the school day. Canney saw clothing as another way to help.
Approximately 25 students have already shopped at the Raider Rack. Teachers and staff refer students to the store, where the students then pick out, try on (the store comes complete with a dressing room), and take home new clothes.
“Seeing children come in and shop, then come to school the next day in a new outfit–seeing how proud they are is a cool thing,” said Stefanie Deisher, London Elementary assistant principal. “A lot of families can’t provide that for their kids, and it’s not necessarily for lack of trying. Sometimes, they just don’t know what resources are out there.”
The Raider Rack provides a direct connection to resources.
“We thought, ‘Let’s just take care of kids while they’re here (at school),’” Canney said.
London resident Johanna Pipes is among the donors who helped to make the store possible. When she first heard about it, she said she knew right away she wanted to help.
“I was one of those kids growing up. My parents didn’t have a lot of money. I only had a couple of outfits to wear and I had to rotate them,” Pipes said. “So, I have a personal connection for wanting to give back, and I hope that people continue to give. This is an ongoing thing.”
The Raider Rack continually accepts donations of new clothing, shoes and outwear for boys and girls. Items can be dropped off or shipped to: London City Schools, 380 Elm St., 2nd Floor, London OH 43140. Checks payable to “London City Schools The Raider Rack” can be sent to the attention of Melissa Canney at the same address.
For more information, call (740) 852-5700, ext. 2109.