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High school pantry impacts families
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High school pantry impacts families

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TINY BUT MIGHTY: The Raymond Central Caring Shelf Pantry on Saturday at Raymond Central. The pantry was created at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year intending to provide students and family with food, clothing and hygiene products, Principal Allison Stansberry said. (Staff Photo by Elsie Stormberg)

RAYMOND – Walking through the halls of Raymond Central High School, one would never expect a 3-foot by 5-foot closet near the school’s main gym to be so impactful for the students and families of the school district. 

In the fall of 2019, Raymond Central began a pantry for its students called the Caring Shelf. According to Principal Allison Stansberry, the pantry was created so things like lack of proper food, clothing and hygiene products do not get in the way of their education. 

“In order for us to meet our students’ academic needs and help them be successful, we feel like we need to meet those basic needs,” Stansberry said. “Fuel the body, fuel the mind.” 

Stansberry said that most items are donated by teachers, churches and community members. They also received help from the BackPack Program and monetary donations from the community. 

Raymond residents Amy Wendland and Candace Jindra are two of those community members. Wendland recently hosted an online class through an organization called Epicure. Epicure sells gluten free, health conscious meal packets, seasonings and spices through these classes. Jindra is an independent executive consultant who recruited Wendland to host a class. 

Because Wendland was a host, she received a certain amount of credit so that she can purchase products. Jindra also received commission as a consultant so she can purchase items. Originally, the class was intended for donating to Little Food Pantries in Lincoln but because those pantries were so full, Wendland decided it would be more beneficial to donate to the Caring Shelf.

“I do live in Raymond, and so they’re my neighbors,” Wendland said. “I don’t know a lot of people in Raymond, but I just felt like it would be nice to give it to my neighbors.”

Stansberry said these donations mean more to students than just material items – it gives them confidence. 

“There’s nothing more important than to have your teeth brushed,” she said. “You’re feeling good about yourself.”

If students or families need items, Stansberry said they can call or email her or Counselor Tasha Osten. When they receive these calls or requests, the school doesn’t have any criteria a student or family must meet. The school will fulfill the request. 

“Sometimes it was a kid coming in saying, ‘Hey, my parents weren’t able to get groceries tonight,’” Osten said. “We didn’t want to have processes (to go through) really, we wanted to be able to meet them right away.”

Osten said that it’s helpful to have to pantry so they can answer requests on the spot. She also said that because the school teaches about advocating for self, many of the students aren’t afraid to ask for help.

“The kids don’t hesitate so much to come in and ask for things because it’s not a full on investigation,” Osten said.

Since the pantry has started, Stansberry said you can see the difference. 

“It makes a difference the way students act and behave,” she said. “If students aren’t having those basic needs met, it’s going to be hard for them to focus throughout the day. “We want to support our families because we just feel it’s extremely important that we are partners in a student’s education.”

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