Finding meaning in tragedy can feel like an impossible task – especially when a young person is involved.
But South Community High School in Worcester has found a way to help.
They do it through a student-run charity called Andy’s Attic. The charity provides clothing to needy people, and it’s all done in the memory of a student who died too soon.
Andy’s Attic was founded in Shrewsbury in honor of Andy Reese, a student who died in a car accident in 2010.
It’s a highly organized, well-oiled machine, which focuses on getting a big shopping bag full of clothes to people who may otherwise go without.
“Each week, we probably help between 50 – 70 people,” faculty advisor Christine Foley explained. “And in each of those bags is a new package of socks, a new package of underwear, and each bag is filled with great gently-used clothing that we get from all over the community, all over Worcester county.”
Foley started as a volunteer with the program, and when the organization needed a new leader, she said yes.
Then it needed a new space – and Worcester Public Schools agreed to let Foley bring Andy’s Attic to South Community High School.
As a result, Andy’s Attic runs in the basement of the school.
“We cleaned it out, we took a summer,” added Foley.
Today, Andy’s Attic is a registered charity, and is run by the students.
Freshman Aidan McLean said being involved has made him much more aware of the community. Junior Aleah Wetteland said, “I didn’t really know that we have so many homeless kids in the school and that people really didn’t have anything.”
And these students are learning life skills, too. They can now take an elective in non-profit management. “They are learning about business practices, non-profit practices when they are actually running a real business and giving back to the community,” said Foley. “It’s just so much all in one.”
For these students, it’s real work with real rewards. “It’s probably one of the best feelings you could ever have,” Wetteland said.
Last Friday, a fire in Worcester left more than a dozen people homeless. The students immediately got to work and sent bags of clothes – sorted by gender and size – to help those people out.
Andy’s Attic is always looking for donations of new socks, new underwear, and gently-used clothes.
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