HOUTZDALE — Moshannon Valley Jr./Sr. High School students are helping their fellow students through a new program.
Rachel’s Locker opened Monday at the school with a mission of supplying seasonal garments such as coats, hats and scarves, clothing, shoes and school supplies to students who need them.
Students who require items can apply anonymously to receive them through the school’s website by clicking on the Rachel’s Locker icon and then filling out a form that will only be seen by school staff. Members of the staff will assist the student in visiting Rachel’s Locker so they can choose from available items.
Members of the school district’s Friends of Rachel organization will help keep the space stocked, neat and tidy.
The school’s President of Friends of Rachel Abby Wilson, said the idea for Rachel’s Locker was a spinoff from a program Rachel’s Challenge that Moshannon Valley students attended last year at West Branch Area High School. Rachel’s Challenge is a nationwide organization that works to reduce bullying and violence through programs that emphasize kindness and understanding.
Wilson said a brainstorming session was held during the program at West Branch where students thought of events and programs that could help their fellow students.
“Things that would get others involved and meet a need,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Rachel’s Locker “has a little bit of everything” including clothing, shoes, backpacks, and school supplies. “Anything kids might need for school,” she said. The district has received a number of sizes of clothing and items for girls but is still in search of items for boys.
Vice President Austin Beirlair said, “Moshannon Valley needs this type of a program. Members saw the need, we collaborated and came up with a way to help.”
Beirlair said approximately 15-20 students have been working since the start of school to prepare the space that was formerly used to serve breakfast in the high school wing and create inviting colorful displays of items available for students to choose from.
Family and Consumer Science students sorted, laundered, and folded clothes to prepare them to be displayed at Rachel’s Locker. Learning support students will be keeping an inventory of merchandise and records for the store. Instructor Tina Lewis said the hands-on learning will benefit students when they leave Moshannon Valley.
“This type of skills are transferrable and are ones students can take with them after they graduate.”
Friends of Rachel Co-Advisor and Instructor Dorothy Benjamin said, “I am proud of the way the students have taken over and taken the lead in this project. This positive act of kindness will start a chain reaction here. Hopefully this can help someone at Moshannon Valley and it will multiply.”
Co-Adviser Abby Houston said, “I think this is great that students are helping students. The members are very passionate about this,” she explained.
Assistant Principal Justin Fye said, “I have to commend the students involved with putting this together for the school.”
In addition to the Friends of Rachel members and various classes that have assisted with setting up and operating the program, he spoke about the district’s instructors who have offered donations, residents of the school district community and some from outside of the community who have made donations.
He also thanked the custodial staff for helping to clear out the room and Information Technology Instructor Rudy Kowalcyk who helped students create commercials for Rachel’s Locker that are broadcast with morning announcements.
“This is just one of the projects that Friends of Rachel has planned this year. They have a lot of ideas about creating a culture of kindness here and allowing others to take part,” Fye said.
Fye said although Rachel’s Locker is currently stocked with cold weather attire, he would like to see it’s offerings be seasonal with clothing changed out ahead of warm weather months and possibly adding some more formal attire appropriate for concerts or prom.
Anyone who wants more information or is interested in donating items or funds to the project may contact Fye at 378-7616, extension No. 2002 or email him at email@example.com.
A color run 5K race is planned at the end of the year to raise funds for Rachel’s Locker and to get students involved in the Friends of Rachel program.