FORT BRAGG — When students return to the Fort Bragg High School campus next week, there will be a new program in hopes of making things a little smoother for them: The Pay It Forward Pantry.
Anchor Academy teachers Katrina Tichinin and Tim Anderson have converted an empty classroom and set up a pantry for students and their families right on campus. Best of all, it’s not just food that’s available, it’s also a place where students can get a new warm jacket, health supplies, toiletries, masks, or even a sleeping bag. – all at no cost to students.
“Our hope is that by consolidating on-site services at FBHS, we will be able to provide students with access to the things they need in a place they are comfortable and familiar with,” Tichinin wrote. and Anderson in a letter to would-be investors. “We hope it will also reduce the stigma surrounding student aid and therefore increase their confidence.”
Anchor Academy, which is known for its commitment to volunteerism, has struggled during the pandemic to keep its students engaged in community service projects, Tichinin said.
“It was something we could do internally to continue our learning through community service,” she said. The teachers paired the project with the Fort Bragg Food Bank, the James G. Cummings Foundation and the Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund.
“The Fort Bragg Food Bank is proud to partner with the high school to provide food for students,” said Operations Coordinator Lisi Martinez. “We were able to provide toiletries and shelf-stable food, as well as our ‘family boxes’ of food that students can take home and cook. »
The pantry, although still sparse at the moment, still contains several shelves filled with clothing, food and other items available for when students return to campus next week – such as a dozen sleeping bags, warm sweaters, pants and socks. On another shelf are menstrual care products and hand sanitizer ready to go. On the next, there are cereal and breakfast bars.
There is a need,” Tichinin said, “our school is 80% socio-economically disadvantaged.” 82% of the school’s students are English Language Learners, Homestay or Homeless, or any combination of these statuses.
That’s more than four in five FBHS students struggling at home, and for many, she said, a Cup O’Noodles may be the only hot meal they get that day.
Anderson and Tichinin have a wish list of “big ticket” items they hope to get donated, including a refrigerator and freezer, as well as several microwaves and other useful kitchen items.
Currently, their full wishlist includes:
- Foldable table
- Baskets (for shelves)
- Men’s and women’s socks
- Unisex, short and long sleeve shirts
- Unisex sweatshirts
- Sleeping bags
- Towel sets
- Beanies and hats
- Various personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, hygiene products, etc.
However, the Pay It Forward pantry is not a thrift store, teachers emphasize: items must be new and unused. To donate, contact Anderson at [email protected]
The food bank also helps provide snacks, and Martinez said they hope to provide fresh produce and milk in the near future, once the pantry has a working fridge and freezer. .
Teachers also hope to at some point include a “gratitude station” in the classroom, where students can leave notes of encouragement for friends, “to encourage them to give back,” Anderson said. They can also leave anonymous requests for items, and the pantry will arrange “open house” times so families of students can come too.
“With the kids coming back to campus, we really wanted to have something to offer them,” Tichinin said.