The weather outside is frightful, much as the seasonal song implies, so business has been brisk at one of south Fargo’s newest shopping sites – the Winter Gear Come Here store, located in the lobby of Lewis & Clark Elementary School.
A group of 18 second and third grade Gifted Services Reading students at Lewis & Clark Elementary School, under the guidance of Gifted Services instructor Stacy Anderson, have created their own “store” to distribute free winter gear to their fellow Lewis & Clark students who might not have the resources to purchase appropriate and/or properly fitting outerwear necessary for our typically cold North Dakota winters – warm coats, caps, mittens, gloves, boots, and scarves. (NOTE: The store is only available for the students of Lewis & Clark Elementary School.)
“These students identified a need at our school, realized the current system wasn’t working to fill that need, so they brainstormed ways to help out,” said Anderson, telling how their free store got its start. Their idea was then put into action as the students created an inventory system for donated winter gear, wrote donation request letters to businesses, set up donation drop off locations, designed marketing materials such as posters and fliers asking for donations, produced public service announcements, and drew up an equitable store work schedule – all tasks on their 13-step store business plan.
The young entrepreneurs have tackled all phases of running the winter gear store with enthusiasm, utilizing the skills and strengths of each participant to lead certain aspects of the project. Of course, they each have their favorite part of the store project:
“The hardest part of the whole project was picking the name of our store. The whole group voted and we had lots of good choices. The best part is that it’s really fun to run the store.” – Carson
“This project makes me happy. All the kids we help are happy, too. Their families don’t have to worry about spending so much money on stuff they grow out of so fast.” – Alora
“I liked working on this project because we help other kids with what they need. We should all do more to help others.” – Madysin
“This service learning project allows the students to feel connected to the greater school community, and it makes learning real. We’ve created caring citizens, who are serving a valid audience, and they’ve accomplished a real purpose,” shared Anderson. “This project empowers the students to make a difference for others, even as 7-, 8-, 9-year-olds. They are helping other children be safe. It teaches real life skills like collaborating and problem solving, plus they’ve adopted an attitude of gratitude for what they do have. And, let’s not forget that completing the winter gear store tasks has reinforced the students’ reading, writing, and math skills.”
Service learning is a method of encouraging student learning and development through active participation in community service. It is integrated into and enhances academic curriculum, as well as fostering civic responsibility. Lewis & Clark’s Winter Gear Come Here store fits the service learning model perfectly.
Some photos courtesy Stacy Anderson.