School district starts free clothing store for students

Grace Ayers, a student at London High School, designed the logo for The Raider Rack, a new store at London City Schools at which students in need can shop for new clothing, free of charge.

(Posted June 10, 2017)

By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer

The sound of soles slapping the floor is not uncommon in school hallways, but the acoustics of a particular pair of shoes caught the attention of one teacher in the London City School District.

Amidst the typical high-pitched squeaks of rubber, the teacher heard a muffled flapping from what she discovered top be a student’s shoes whose soles were barely intact.

Wishing to help, the teacher went to a local store, purchased a new pair of shoes, presented them to the student and watched as he happily put them on.

Later, as the teacher was relaying this story to Melissa Canney, the district’s student support specialist, an idea to help students in need began to formulate.

It is a little known fact that teachers and other school staffers often purchase clothing for students where they see a strong need. Lately, that need has been growing.

According to Canney, an increasing number of students are living in single-parent homes or with relatives due in part to parental abandonment, parental incarceration or parents who are struggling with addiction.

She says that often these families are presented with steep challenges, making it difficult for them to fully provide children with basic material necessities.

“Kids have no control over this,” Canney said. “They have no control over what food is in their house, and they have no control over whether they get a new pair of shoes.

“Children are expected to do a lot, but for many of them there is a lot of turmoil in their lives.”

Wanting to lessen their burden, Canney began brainstorming ways to help students as it pertains to insecurity about the clothing they have or do not have.

She came up with the idea of opening a store on school grounds where students in need could shop for new clothing, completely free of charge.

The teachers Canney spoke with were on board with the idea, but before she could really get this thing off the ground, she needed the support of the district’s administrators. She needed not to worry.

“Getting them on board as well was not hard to do,” she said.

With that hurdle cleared, Canney came up with a name for the store, “The Raider Rack,” and has turned her attention to perhaps the biggest challenge—getting plenty of new clothes into the store before the start of the next school year.

So far, The Raider Rack, located in a classroom at London Elementary, has eight brand new pairs of shoes donated by the London Rotary Club. Canney said she is hopeful the community will support the endeavor by purchasing new clothes or donating money.

“This is a very generous community,” she said. “I have no doubt that they will do whatever they can to support these children.”

The store is seeking clothing for all seasons and all grade levels. Due to lack of manpower to handle used clothing donations, Canney is asking that the clothing items be newly purchased and unworn.

An announcement on the school website will list all of the items needed. Flyers will also be placed around town.

Monetary donations are also welcome. All of the funds raised will go directly toward purchasing clothing to supply The Raider Rack.

Canney said the shop might seem like a huge undertaking but feels it is needed to help students in the district be successful in and out of the classroom.

“In this district, we recognize that students are people first, and they have basic needs that need to be met,” she said. “They deserve to be fed, feel well and be comfortable with what they are wearing.

“We want them to be able to focus on being a student and not worry about shoes that are too tight or shoes that are falling apart.”

To help, drop off newly purchased clothing at the district’s central office at 380 Elm St. Summer hours are Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monetary donations are welcome, too. Make checks out to “London City Schools – the Raider Rack,” and mail them to London City Schools, Attn: Melissa Canney, 380 Elm St., London, OH 43140.

Canney can be reached at (740) 852-5700, ext. 2109, for details about drop-offs, donations and volunteer opportunities.

Donations needed

London City Schools is collecting new clothing for The Raider Rack. Items needed are as follows:

Shoes

  • Girls’ and boys’ sneakers – any size for ages 4-18 years old
  • Girls’ and boys’ flip-flops – for ages 12-18 years old
  • Girls’ and boys’ cold weather boots – for ages 4-12 years old

Boys’ Pants

  • Pants with an elastic or drawstring waistband – any size for ages 4-18 years old
  • Solid colors in black, gray, khaki, navy, red or denim

Girls’ Pants or Leggings

  • Pants with an elastic or drawstring waistband – any size for ages 4-18 years old
  • Solid colors in black, gray, khaki, navy, red or denim

Boys’ and Girls’ Shirts

  • Pullover t-shirts or hooded sweatshirts – any size for ages 4-18 years old
  • Solid colors – any color is fine
  • Keep sports logo shirts to Red Raider or Ohio State Buckeyes items

Boys’ and Girls’ Outerwear

  • Lightweight coats with zippers in solid colors that can be worn in cool or cold weather – any size for ages 4-18 years old
  • Hats, gloves, mittens.
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