School store now helps the needy

GLOVERSVILLE – The store at Gloversville High School, which once served as a place to get goodies and snacks, has been transformed into a Little Bit of Everything, a place for students to get clothes or health products at no cost.

The store has been open for about two weeks, serving as a resource for students who have tattered clothing or no access to personal products, said store organizer Susie Baird-Blackwood, a teaching assistant.

School officials said they have noticed over the years some students wearing worn-out clothing or inappropriate clothing for colder months.

“We encourage any kid that may need something to visit the store and take what they like. That’s why it’s here, to fill a need,” Principal Richard DeMallie said. “Kids have to walk to school, so sometimes they get here soaked, and this is here to provide a change of clothes. It’s really here for all the students.”

Baird-Blackwood said in the store’s first two weeks, more than 25 students have sought clothing or hygiene products.

Baird-Blackwood said she had been collecting clothing for students for four years. When the school store stopped selling snacks, she asked DeMallie if the clothing could be moved from the vacant room where it was stored, so more students would be aware.

Baird-Blackwood said she has been receiving donation of clothing, shoes, hats and coats – many of them washed for free by Robison & Smith. She said businesses have been donating health and hygiene products like toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and soap in damaged packaging that render it unable to be sold.

The store is open during school hours, but DeMallie said the hours may be expanded to address the students that might be self-conscious of taking things in front of their peers.

“There are poverty and hygiene issues, so we wanted to give the opportunity to students that can’t get to the store or purchase new clothing the chance to get those types of things,” he said.

“There are other outlets out there, but the key is, they charge for these products but we do not,” Baird-Blackwood said.

The middle school is looking into a similar program, Principal Mark Batty said. He said a room is being cleared to make space for donated clothing.

“We are trying to do the same thing and hopefully we can have it ready when the cold weather starts,” he said. “You see kids come in the morning that choose not to wear their sweatshirt and jackets because of a fashion fad going on, but then there are other kids that just don’t have this stuff available to them, and you can tell by the way they are acting they are uncomfortable. They are the ones we want to address and help, because there is a pretty decent portion of the kids that just aren’t dressing warm enough.”

To donate products or clothing for students, call Family and Community Educator Andy Slezak at 775-5710, Ext. 1068.