March 3, 2024 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

SJO Civics class helps those in need

St. Joseph-Ogden Senior Lindsey Aden wanted to help the community so when teacher Marshall Schacht and School Resource Officer Shawn Hallett approached her about helping with the SJO Shop and Go, Aden was all in.

“I think this project is important because it addresses a need in our community that some may not have known was prevalent. It helps those who are in need at home, and it really accentuates the supportive nature of our school,” Aden said.

The Shop and Go is located in Room 116 and has prepackaged breakfast items, personal hygiene items and clothing for students in need.

Aden and the St. Joseph-Ogden Civics class have taken on the project as part of their class requirement for community service.

Hallett said he got the idea for the Shop and Go while attending a meeting of the Student Assistance Program.

“During those meetings, it was discussed how some of the students reported that they were hungry and they could not focus in the classroom,” Hallett said. “Not knowing the reason as to why they were hungry, I thought that it would be a good idea to have a resource for the students to be able to get a small pre-packaged breakfast item to start their day.  In addition to food, I learned that there was a need for clothing and personal hygiene items for some as well.”

Hallett took his idea to Schacht and the administration where it was well-received.

“Every little bit helps and the small things we can do lead to bigger things,” Hallett said.

He then reached out to the St. Joseph Food Pantry to gather information on having a pantry at school and the pantry volunteered to help the students get their pantry up and running.

Aden said the civics class is taking donations for breakfast food and non-perishable food items. Students are also collecting winter clothing items.

Donations can be made by contacting Schacht or Hallett at the high school.

“The purpose of this store is to reach those students who are in need or struggling to get by at home,” Aden said. “All of our items are completely free to any student who comes into the store. We’re really hoping to reach those students who don’t have enough food or winter clothes at home so that we can be a support system for them.”

Hallett said he thinks the community knows that there are students in need in St. Joseph but knowing how to help can be difficult because oftentimes people do not want to ask of help.

Hallett said that when the Civics class was first approached with the idea of the Shop and Go there as an overwhelming response.

“Some students stopped me in the hallway to express to me what a good idea and need it was,” he said. “They immediately wanted to know what kind of items they could donate to get this started.”

The Civics class made 12 care packages of food items for students to take home during the holiday break and provided one family with presents and food for Christmas.

Hallett said the response to the project has made him happy.

“I know that it is a service project for the Civics class but to some of them it is more than just a project,” he said.   “You may never know who may need a little help and just by having this available I see it possibly making a difference for those that take advantage of it. “

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