RAHS Food Shelf seeks donations as it gears up for school year

In July, Megan Helmick and Shaween Lawrence, school faculty members and co-coordinators of the Roseville Area High School Food Shelf, received a $500 check from the North Suburban Evening Lions Club, presented by past Lions president Galen Britz. It was a particularly timely gift, Helmick says, because at the start of the school year, the food shelf needs all the help it can get, including donations of school supplies and toiletries. The monetary donation will likely be used to provide necessities such as c
In July, Megan Helmick and Shaween Lawrence, school faculty members and co-coordinators of the Roseville Area High School Food Shelf, received a $500 check from the North Suburban Evening Lions Club, presented by past Lions president Galen Britz. It was a particularly timely gift, Helmick says, because at the start of the school year, the food shelf needs all the help it can get, including donations of school supplies and toiletries. The monetary donation will likely be used to provide necessities such as clothing and food. (submitted photo)
The RAHS Food Shelf needs a wide variety of items, including foods preferred by the district’s refugee students from Thailand and Nepal. (submitted graphic)
The RAHS Food Shelf needs a wide variety of items, including foods preferred by the district’s refugee students from Thailand and Nepal. (submitted graphic)

As the school year nudges back onto students' and parents' collective radars — it begins Sept. 8 — school supplies and school clothes and other essentials need to be rounded up.

For students in need, this can pose a challenge: Does one forgo certain school supplies in order to have others, or skip supplies in order make ends meet?

The Roseville Area High School Food Shelf exists to help students avoid those questions.

The food shelf is coordinated by Shaween Lawrence and Megan Helmick, faculty members at Roseville Area High School, and is going into its fourth year of operation.

"At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, several students wrote and were awarded a grant that allowed us to transform what used to be a custodial storage area into the food shelf that you would see now if you visited the school," Helmick explains.

"We first stocked it with donations from the ISD 623 staff during their workshop week," she adds.

Helmick says currently, the shelf is seeking donations of school supplies, food and toiletries.

Specifically, this includes items like backpacks, pens and pencils, binders and folders; food like instant noodles, rice, non-perishable meat such as summer sausage or packaged tuna and canned fruit; toiletries including toothpaste and tooth brushes, shampoo and conditioner, soaps, deodorant, combs, diapers, cleaning products and feminine products.

"To start the school year, we are always in desperate need of toiletries and school supplies," Helmick notes. "We start the year off strong, but as more and more students are made aware of the food shelf, more are accessing it."

For instance, Helmick says, there were between 160-200 visits to the food shelf within the first four days of the school year, last year.

"You can imagine how quickly we go through our supplies."

Community support

As well as taking individual donations, the food shelf relies on regular support from various local businesses, groups and churches. In July, the North Suburban Evening Lions Club donated $500 to the food shelf.

Lions Club member Harold Reppe says the donation came together through the club's own fundraising efforts, specifically, its two waffle breakfasts. The most recent breakfast was held in April, with the next slated for October.

Helmick says the food shelf also uses such donations to purchase seasonal items students need among other things: "coats, hats, mittens, etc. or more cultural foods, because our district is home to many refugee students from Thailand and Nepal."

The food shelf is open to all students, Helmick says, and all they need to do is ask a teacher to accompany them to it.

"We record the number of students who visit the food shelf each day," Helmick notes, "but not their names, so they can remain anonymous and visit as many times as they need to."

Reppe predicts the Lions' donation will help purchase backpacks, and Helmick explains that the food shelf provides students who visit it a backpack for the supplies, so they're not obviously lugging grocery bags of food or toiletries around school, she says.

Donations to the RAHS Food Shelf can be made at the school throughout the year, in the large red donation bin just inside the door of the main office. The school accepts donations weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. when school is in session and is located at 1240 County Road B2.

For more information or to set up a donation, contact Helmick or Lawrence at megan.helmick@isd623.org or shaween.lawrence@isd623.org.

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.


RAS Backpack Drive

Beyond Roseville Area High School’s Food Shelf, ISD 623 is holding its annual Backpack Drive to make sure kids district-wide are ready for school when it starts Sept. 8. Drop off donations of new backpacks and schools supplies at Roseville Area Schools District Center, 1251 County Road B-2 W., or at the Fairview Community Center, 1910 County Road B W. For more information, visit www.isd623.org. Beyond backpacks, please donate:

• #2 pencils
• Pens
• Colored pencils
• Crayons
• Markers
• Notebooks
• Plastic pencil boxes
• 2-pocket folders
• Scissors
• Glue
• Large pink erasers

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