By Sabrine Yaser,
Ed. Note: The following appeared in the most recent edition of The Rostrum, the WHHS newspaper. It was submitted with a request it be printed in the Voice. We are always happy to highlight young journalists in our pages.
West Haven High School junior Grace Nowak’s “Fill-A-Bag, Fuel-A-Mind” club has expanded to Harry M. Bailey Middle School. The club provides supplies like snacks, backpacks, clothes, and hygiene products for students who are in need.
The club has also expanded to May V. Carrigan Intermediate School, where a supply closet is opening soon.
“It’s only the beginning, as we now hope to spread into the elementary schools and even have kids from other towns start their own Fill-A-Bag, Fuel-A-Mind pantries in their schools,” Nowak said.
To get the word out about the club, Nowak used the media and sent emails to all of the principals in the West Haven School District about it. She even presented her idea at a Board of Education meeting.
Nowak said she’s also been spreading the word about the club through Facebook (Fillabag, Fuelamind) and Instagram (fillabag_fuelamind).
After receiving the email from Nowak, Bailey Vice-Principal Stacy Sutton thought it was an amazing club, especially if it meant helping people in need during the pandemic.
“Our goal in education is to help students, not just learn academically, but in every facet of their life–anything we can do to help students is what we want to do,” Ms. Sutton said.
All chapters of the club are run by students (collecting donations and organizing) and teachers/staff are there to supervise. The club even does drive-by donations, where people come in their cars and drop off supplies, such as non-perishable foods and hygiene products.
The Bailey chapter of the club has a separate room they decorated to keep all the donated supplies, and they put up a bulletin board outside the room to let students know where to go if they need any necessities.
It’s almost like a store where if a student is in need they can go to the supply room, ask for their necessities, and the staff that runs the room fills a bag full of supplies and gives it to the students.
The room contains snacks, dinners, personal hygiene products, backpacks, water, Gatorade, and more.
Ms. Sutton said it was very easy to start the club at Bailey, despite the pandemic because they had many motivated staff members and high school students who helped them.
“It was exciting getting it started, just knowing that we were going to be able to help the kids in need,” Ms. Sutton said.
Many staff members donated to the club. Bailey’s PTA even bought approximately $300 worth of groceries and personal hygiene products.
Ms. Sutton hopes to put food on the family table and to “pay it forward” so that others can do something nice for others.
West Haven residents who want to help can continue donating to the food drives when they are announced on both Instagram and Facebook.