The Sachem’s Pantry
Since its early days, JAG had included community service as part of the curriculum and a hallmark of the JAG program. The community service projects teach humility and raise the self-esteem of the students who participate. JAG programs around the country choose community service projects in their community each year. The projects range from visiting assisted living facilities to cleaning up litter along highways. Some projects take on a much larger scope and involve partnering with other organizations that offer services to those in need in a community. In New Hampshire the JAG program brain stormed and came up with one such community service project.
Students at Laconia High school wanted to start the “Sachem’s Pantry” the school’s mascot is the Sachem. The pantry was to be located within Laconia High School and would offer items such as food, clothing, toiletries and other items available to those in need within the high school population and their families. Working with the school nurse the students are ensuring confidentiality for those who access the pantry and receive items. Students would be able to bring home items on the weekends when school lunch and breakfast are not served and the items would benefit their families including younger siblings that attend Laconia schools. The goal is to help the families that are struggling with daily meals.
In December of 2013 the Laconia JAG students met with Granite United Way to present their “Sachem’s Pantry” idea. The Granite United Way approved a donation of $1,000 to help stock the pantry and fund the project. The students cleaned out a room in the school and began collecting items. The JAG students organized a school wide food drive as well. JAG students spent more than 120 hours planning and organizing the pantry.
The school nurse was confident that the pantry would help meet student’s basic needs and help them concentrate on learning. She also felt it would bring the community closer through the partnership between the Laconia High School JAG program and Granite United Way. The principal of Laconia High School also felt that it would help students excel at school instead of concentrating on the lack of basic needs such as clean clothes and food. The ultimate goal for the JAG students is to grow the pantry and help a larger portion of the students in need at Laconia High School.