13-Year-Old Student Creates Community Pantry Of Donated Clothes And Supplies For Peers And Their Families
The closet, also known as PAM's Pantry at Port Allen Middle School in Louisiana, includes donated clothes and shoes, hygiene products and school supplies.
October 03, 2019 at 10:14 pm
Noticing a need amongst his fellow classmates, an eighth-grader in Louisiana created a resource for students in need.
Chase Neyland-Square created “PAM’s Pantry,” a closet with donated clothes, shoes, hygiene products and school supplies for his peers at Port Allen Middle School. Located within the school’s gymnasium, the closet is available at any time for students and their families in need.
“I know that everybody doesn’t have things,” Neyland-Square told CBS-affiliate WBNS in Baton Rouge. “And I’m fortunate to have things that other people don’t have, and I look at it as sometimes, how would I feel in that situation?”
In January 2019, The Advocate reported 19% of Baton Rouge families fall below the poverty line, and 28% of families in Baton Rouge are barely able to sustain themselves within a survival budget, based on 2016 data.
More specifically, of Port Allen's 5,000 residents, 24% are considered to be living in poverty.
"A Port Allen family who suffered from a fire came in a got a whole new closet full of clothes," Neyland-Square said, as a testament to the need for PAM's Pantry in the community. "I wanted to make a difference in the school because I wanted everyone to feel equal."
Under the umbrella of the school’s Student Program for Arts, Recreation and Knowledge (SPARK), the 13-year-old was supported in his endeavor and was able to put his plan into action. Port Allen Middle School Principal Jessica Major established the program three years ago in hopes of creating young leaders.
“We ask them what they want to do to make the school better and through that, we have changed drastically some of the things that we do here at Port Allen Middle School,” she said.
Neyland-Square said he hopes to expand the program beyond Port Allen’s walls and make it a nonprofit organization.