Raider Rack gets off on the right foot in 2021

Messenger photo by Jeff Pfeil
London Mayor Patrick Closser (left) and Brittany Ragland (center), manager at Shoe Sensation, present a donation to Melissa Canney (right), student support specialist for London City Schools and coordinator of the Raider Rack. The London shoe store held a Mayor’s Day Sale on Jan. 3; customers received a 10 percent discount, and 10 percent of sales went to the Raider Rack in the form of gift cards.

(Posted Jan. 8, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

This year started off on the right foot–and the left–for London City Schools’ Raider Rack.

Patrick Closser, mayor of London and owner of Casey’s Carry-Out & Drive-Thru, got things strolling late last year by donating 42 pairs of shoes to the Raider Rack, which serves students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade who don’t have ready access to new clothing, coats and shoes.

Teachers refer students to “shop” for needed items at Raider Rack “stores” located in each of the district’s buildings. The stores are stocked with donations from the community. Everything is free to the students.

“I was blessed that my business was able to stay open throughout the whole pandemic. I decided I wanted to do something nice for the community through my business,” Closser said about his donation.

He reached out to Melissa Canney, student support specialist for London City Schools and coordinator of the Raider Rack, to see what items were most needed. Canney said the answer was easy–shoes.

“Since we are in our fourth year, we’ve learned what the needs are and what the kids like,” Canney said. “Shoes are not usually donated because they are expensive and yet they are often needed because kids grow out of shoes so quickly.”

Closser contacted Donny Atwell, manager of Shoe Sensation in London at the time, and the store’s corporate office.

“They have always been great partners to the community, and they said they could help. They let me purchase shoes at a discount,” Closser said.

The giving didn’t stop there. Shoe Sensation’s corporate office reached back out to Closser, saying they wanted to do more. They organized a five-hour Mayor’s Day Sale on Jan. 3 during which customers received 10 percent off their purchases, and 10 percent of the value of those purchases went to the Raider Rack in the form of gift cards. The store added an additional $200 gift card on top of that.

“The day of the Mayor’s Day Sale was a huge success with the store doing over triple their normal business. It was great to see our community come together for such a great cause while supporting a local business,” Closser said.

“We mainly wanted to donate to London City Schools because everyone goes through hard times, and there are some kids that don’t get what they need for school or just on a day-to-day basis,” said Brittany Ragland, current manager at Shoe Sensation. “We just wanted to do something for the London City Schools to put a smile on the kids’ faces and just take some stress from the parents.”

Closser praised Atwell, who has since passed away, for coming up with the outreach idea.

“He was a wonderful man who loved his community. I am glad he was able to be a part of it,” Closser said.

Canney said she will use the Shoe Sensation gift cards to purchase shoes for all three Raider Rack stores.

Last year, the Raider Rack served 182 students. With the stores on site, school staff can provide immediate assistance to students.

“A shopping trip at the store can boost a student’s self-esteem and self-confidence, and it can provide immediate comfort for the remainder of the school day,” Canney said.

Donations are always appreciated, she added. The most popular items among students are Red Raider gear, girls’ black leggings, and boys’ jogger pants. Items can be dropped off to the attention of Melissa Canney at the London Elementary school office, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Checks can be made out to London City Schools and mailed to 380 Elm St., London OH 43140, attn: Melissa Canney/The Red Raider Rack.

For more information, call (740) 852-5700, ext. 2109.

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