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Hillcrest Academy launches Free Store for students, families

School counsellor at Hillcrest Academy, Shannon Davis, shows some of the donation that have come into the FREE STORE at the school that will help students and families in need.
School counsellor at Hillcrest Academy, Shannon Davis, shows some of the donation that have come into the FREE STORE at the school that will help students and families in need. - Kathy Johnson
SHELBURNE, N.S. —

Students and their families at Hillcrest Academy in Shelburne are getting a helping hand through a Free Store just launched this fall at the school. 
Initiated by school counsellor Shannon Davis, the Free Store is being stocked with non-perishable food items, clothing, personal hygienic products, school supplies and other items to help families in need.
“The outpour of support has been amazing,” said Davis in an interview. “We receive probably one or two bags every day of stuff from the list … we have a received a major donation from a contributor of money which will allow us to target things we might need for families as we move into the winter months.”
This is the second Free Store that Davis has started. Last year, she undertook the same project at the Yarmouth Memorial Consolidated High School while on staff there. It was “extremely successful,” said Davis.
“Shannon came to me with the idea and I thought it was a great program. “I was all in very quickly,”  said Hillcrest principal John Roscoe. “It’s talked about in the community and the community sees it as a positive thing. 
"I think it only has room to grow and the impact on our students I feel will be tremendous for their physical and mental health, just their overall well-being and to help their educational experience and it comes from Shannon having an idea and the community willing to help and partner with us,” added Roscoe, who  also serves as a Shelburne Municipal Councillor.
“The Free Store really started from the students we were seeing coming in for counselling and the families that we were learning of as we counselled,” said Davis. “A lot of families live quite a distance from schools, food banks and stores. A lot of that has to do with they might not have transportation, they might not have reliable transportation, they may be using taxis to get around or they may be using friends and relatives to get things done. The Free Store will allow us right in the school to respond to the needs of students immediately because if students are in need of something, we can provide it to them right there.”
Similar free store initiatives have also been introduced in other schools in the tri-counties by staff and/or students at those schools.
Use of the Free Store is confidential, discreet and free to all students and families, said Davis. 
“It’s a place where they can come for non-perishable food items, personal care items, clothing, shoes, winter coats, hats, mitts, things like that, school supplies,” adding they’ve also had some gift certificates donated for small denominations so if a family needs something like milk or eggs they can help.
“You would be surprised how many kids worry about what’s going on with their parents or guardians and families,” said Davis. “A lot of that worry has to do with expenses parents are paying out. They are hearing those conversations. They know if there’s this much money going out for this and not enough money for this. It’s causing a tremendous amount of anxiety for a lot of kids because those are adult issues they don’t know how to solve. 
"One of the great things about the Free Store it helps students to just focus on their education instead of worrying about being hungry, being cold with no coat or not having enough school supplies.”
Davis said Hillcrest Academy is grateful for all the donations and support that have been received from the community so far, adding she’s hoping it's an idea other schools in the area may start. 
“It does work,” she said. “I watched in worked at Yarmouth high … it’s quite an undertaking to do but it’s worth it."
Anyone interested in donating to the Free Store can contact Davis at Hillcrest Academy or drop by the school to talk or drop off a donation. Hillcrest Academy can issue a charitable donation receipt to any business or person wishing to provide a monetary donation.


FREE STORE WISH LIST 
• NEW CLOTHING in VARIOUS SIZES
New Winter Coats, various sizes
Children/Youth boy/girl Hoodies/Sweat Shirts s-xl
Children/Youth boy/girl jogging pants size s-l
Children/Youth boy/girl jogging pants s-l
Children/Youth boy/girl T shirts s-xl
New children's socks/underwear, boys/girls
Children/Youth boy/girl Pajamas adult s-xl
• FOOD/GROCERY ITEMS:
Snack foods, granola bars, fruit cups, microwave popcorn, laundry detergent, canned items, spaghetti, beans, soup, dry goods, noodles, macaroni, Kraft dinner, juice boxes, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, dish soap, toilet paper, towels, face cloths
• GIFT CERTIFICATES
$5/10/20/25 denominations
Home Heating Fuel
Grocery Store
Pharmacy
Gas
• SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Pencil box
Crayons
Colored pencils
Washable markers
No. 2 pencils
Pencil sharpener
Erasers
Glue sticks
Blunt-tipped scissors
Plastic folders
Assorted construction paper
Wide-ruled notebook or pad
Tissues
Backpack
Lunchbox

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