Students visit Raider Rack, leave wearing smiles

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With help from volunteer Michelle Cremeens, second-grader Khama Sanders picks out clothes at the Raider Rack, housed at London Elementary and open to students from throughout the district.

(Posted Nov. 1, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Clothing. It’s one of life’s basic necessities, yet not all children have access to new socks, shoes, pants, shirts and coats.

A year ago, London City Schools created a resource to fill that void. Stocked with new clothes donated by the community, the Raider Rack is located in former classroom space at London Elementary.

Last school year, 137 elementary, middle and high school students shopped at the Raider Rack. Already this school year, 79 students have visited the store. They browse through the racks and shelves and try on items in the store’s dressing room.

“Most every visit, I am throwing clothes over the curtain to them because they usually only pick a few things,” said Kirsten Witt, a teacher at the middle school who refers students to the Raider Rack. “Students will find me in the hallway after the shopping spree and show me one of the outfits they are now wearing. It strengthens their self worth, their outlook while walking the hallways, even their posture changes.”

Janice Riggle, a teacher at the elementary school, has witnessed the positive impact, too. With new clothing, students are more comfortable around their peers and they don’t have to worry about everyday things like having warm clothes to go outside for recess.

“Just seeing the smiles on their faces when they come down from getting clothes, you can tell it’s making a difference,” Riggle said.

Melissa Canney, London City Schools’ student support specialist, spearheaded the project as one more way to set students up for success. Situations at home can make it difficult for families to provide clean or new clothes for their children. Teachers and staffers see some students in shoes that are falling apart or clothes that have seen better days.

“The Raider Rack is meant to help families stretch their dollar and maybe give them a little relief,” Canney said.

Shirts, skirts, pants, coats and shoes line shelves and fill racks at the Raider Rack. Students can look through the items, all of which are donated by the community, and try them on in the dressing room at the back of the store. Melissa Canney,

It also provides economic relief to teachers and other school staffers who reach into their own pockets to buy clothing and supplies for students in need.

“I’m always asked, ‘What can I do to help?’ Here’s something that’s tangible,” Canney said, explaining that donations of new clothing, as well as money to buy clothing, are always welcome. She said the community has been very generous in supporting the endeavor.

“When I asked the community to support this, I knew they would,” Canney said.

Sneakers sizes Y-13 to Y-6 and Red Raider school spirit wear in all sizes are especially needed right now.

Volunteers also are needed to organize donations, switch out stock to match the seasons, and help students shop.

Donations 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.

This note is pinned to each piece of clothing at the Raider Rack. It says: “Enjoy this piece of clothing. It was picked with you in mind. Generous folks who are proud to support London City Schools have made this possible.”

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