In an effort to support students, no matter what, the staff at Central Elementary School have been working hard on a new project – The Raider Room. The Raider Room is a school-based charity, allowing residents to donate items for less fortunate students for snack time, recess, and more.

“We’ve been working on it for about a month, and looking into spaces and how it would work,” said Brittany Schmidt, school counselor. “I’ve always had winter clothes in my room for kids, and this seemed like a better use.”

The Room has only been open since November 12, and the concept is fairly simple. Schmidt has always had winter clothes and snacks available in her office for students from struggling families. The items she had were donated by staff and residents aware of the help students were receiving. Eventually, word of mouth spread and Schmidt and staff decided to make a space available for the donated items, which is what eventually became the Raider Room.

“Over the years, we’ve seen an increase in not just homeless students, but just a higher need for snacks and clothing, and students not coming to school with those essential,” said Schmidt. “We were just kind of passionate about it.”

Already, the community is coming forward, according to Schmidt. Churches, businesses, and just regular residents are giving an “overwhelming” amount of support to the Raider Room, donating all kinds of essential items for snack time, recess, and even just day-to-day supplies. Any time a student requires something, maybe a jacket or a snack, all they have to do is have a teacher bring them to the Room, according to Schmidt. Once there, they pick the things they need and go about their day.

The situation of the student determines a few factors. If they are simply forgetful, such as leaving gloves at home, a set of gloves is left in their locker from the Room. If they don’t have a pair of gloves and aren’t able to get a new one, the gloves are then given to the student to keep. It’s left up to the student themselves to make that decision.

There’s more than just winter clothing right now, though they are currently very popular items. However, the Raider Room also provides other things, such as T-shirts, sweaters, school supplies, pants and jeans, shoes, and more.

“We have a dream that one day the parents can come in and kind of shop with their kids,” said Schmidt. “We’ll have to limit it, but it would be great to provide that need.”

The staff are still working out how those shopping days that would have to work, especially with further plans to make the Raider Room even more accessible for the community. For example, one thought the staff have is stocking non-perishable foods and even a limited number of perishable foods as there is a fridge, for families to take if they’re in a tight spot. But for now, the staff are still working through some ideas until they can have a more solid plan. And students are allowed to bring snacks home if they desire.

While there are talks of a possible store in the middle and high school as well, but discussions for that one just started this November. As such, while Schmidt did state that there will be a store eventually, it may not be for a while.

“There was more demand at the elementary because of the need for winter clothes,” she said. “But another shop is definitely in the works. We’re working on finding a space for it and figuring out what kinds of things it would need.”

Donations are along the standard that most places would want: new or gently used clothing items (except socks and underwear which have to be new), food or drinks like juice boxes or snack bags, and any other necessities students might need. Even school supplies like colored pencils have been donated to the Room, which helps students and teachers. The school is asking for nutritious snacks such as granola bars, yogurt, and apples. The best way to donate currently is to contact Schmidt at bschmidt@central.k12.mn.us or Ann Hendel at ahendel@central.k12.mn.us or bring donations to Schmidt’s room in the elementary school office. As for families who need help, they can also contact Schmidt and let her know what their children need from the Room.

“We really appreciate the community coming through for this,” she said. “We’re still working on it, and can’t wait to see how much we can help.”

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