Albertville City School System students have a new way to find help with needed supplies, personal care items and more.
The Aggie Pantry opened its doors at the Albertville High School about two years ago, offering limited clothing, basic hygiene items and school supplies to high school students.
But with COVID-19 closures and the school being forced to close due to the pandemic at times, the students’ needs were unmet.
That’s when the Albertville Public Library stepped up to help, opening the Aggie Pantry Depot. The Aggie Pantry Depot offers many of the same items as the Aggie Pantry but is available to students of all ages in the school system.
“We realize not just the high school students have needs,” said Albertville Public Library Director Reagan Deason.
“We have our pantry open to all city school system students who may need food or hygiene items we have available.
“We have it located in a discreet location in our Teen Section. It is a serve-yourself area and we operate on the honor system.”
In lieu of late fees at the library, patrons are urged to make donations to the Aggie Pantry Depot instead. Basic needs include non-perishable food; school supplies, such as binders, folders, colored pencils, Crayons and markers; and personal items, such as laundry detergent, girl’s and boy’s deodorant, shampoo, conditioner and feminine hygiene items.
If requested, donations made to the library may be re-routed to the high school for use in the pantry.
Monetary donations may be made at the library with instructions and memo of what the funds are for, or funds may be mailed to the Albertville High School, Attn: Bookkeeper/Aggie Pantry, 402 E. McCord Ave., Albertville, Al. 35950.
“If God puts in on your heart, we will accept donations of all types. Donations aren’t limited to just library patrons who may have overdue books,” Deason said.
Receipts will be given upon request, Deason said.
Caitlin Dickerson, AHS math teacher and Aggie Pantry sponsor, said the idea for the Aggie Pantry originated in 2018 with a group of Girl Scouts.
“I collaborated with a group of Girl Scouts over Christmas break 2018 and we were able to open up the pantry a few weeks later in January 2019,” Dickerson said.
“We serve approximately 1,600 students at the high school.”
Lockers are stocked with basic items, school supplies and a food pantry has been set up in the counselor’s office.
Dickerson said she restocks at least one or two items daily, showing the Aggie Pantry is pt to good use.
“It’s heartbreaking that so much has to be put to use, but at the same time, I’m thankful that it is there so we can provide for our students.”
The library is located at 200 Jackson St., in Albertville, next to the Albertville High School. The library is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, the first and last hours of operation are closed to the public, allowing workers to clean and re-shelve resources.
Donations may be delivered to the high school during normal school hours, Dickerson said, or taken to the city’s library from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Deason said area non-profits and the school system do a good job of keeping students from going hungry, but often are not able to fill demands for hygiene and household items.
“With the Aggie Pantry at the high school we are seeing needs like toilet paper, detergent, hand sanitizer, washcloths and feminine products,” she said. “That seems to be what makes our process unique.”
Deason said she and other school officials will work to keep the needs of the Aggie Pantry and Aggie Pantry Depot available on social media.
“We already know there are students out there that don’t eat over the weekends,” Deason said. “When the schools were forced to shut down, some had nowhere to turn. We want them to know that you can get the things you need here Monday through Friday.
“Come as you are. This is your business. There is no judgment.”
Deason said the Aggie Pantry Depot is a year-round project at the library.
“We are supplementing the good work they are already doing at the high school,” she said. “But we know summers are hard. With the COVID shutdowns last summer, it was difficult for a lot of families. This is just another outlet for them.
“We may be in a new year, but the same virus is still out there. The needs are even greater than before.”