Metro High School's Unique Program Encourages Students to Donate, Share

Tuesday, November 22nd 2011, 7:18 pm
By: News 9

A metro area teacher is driving home a lesson about giving by encouraging her students to do more shopping. 

Natalie Zielny, an English teacher at Westmoore High School, noticed that some of this year's students appeared to be in need of clothing.  Zielny though, didn't want to embarrass her students.  

"I thought a clothing closet or something like that would be a great idea," said Zielny.  "But I wanted to take the embarrassing aspect away from it that they usually have."

She came up with Jaguar Exchange, a clothing shop named after the school's mascot.  The exchange is housed in a portable classroom behind the main building. Zielny had been collecting clothing for the past few months and had stored them in her classroom. 

When the portable building became available, Zielny moved all the stored clothes in, but chose not to just display them on tables and racks.  The building now looks like a small boutique on the inside, with mirrors, and even a small chandelier.

The exchange operates on a barter system.  Students donate items of clothing and receive tickets to "purchase" other items.  Students in need can receive tickets without donating.  The tickets are all alike so there's no stigma attached.

Zielny also coaches the Pom squad at Westmoore, and had help sorting clothing from them. 

"We have a lot of good quality clothes come in," said senior Kaitlyn Bruza.  " We don't want them to think that they're getting y'know, less than what other people get." 

Junior Kaitlyn Rogers agreed.

"There's no money exchanged," said Rogers.  "It's purely donations or people just come to trade y'know, something kind of equal to what they would be getting."

Zielny hopes the concept catches on among Westmoore's students.  She thinks the novelty of trading will encourage more donations, even if the notion of giving is hidden inside a shopping trip. 

"They don't realize that actually they're still giving and helping out those kids less fortunate."  said Zielny.