Hillcrest students help raise funds for classmates in needFeb 09, 2024 12:30PM ● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High Athletic Director Scott Carrell takes a pie to the face to help raise funds to benefit the school free market. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
At Hillcrest High, the free market just got a helpful boost.
Thanks to its own students and community, Hillcrest raised $22,275.83 to help fund stocking its pantry, purchasing supplies, supporting community events and having money available for items in need.
“Our market serves all of our students and families and their families at Hillcrest,” said Elena Foley, Hillcrest community school facilitator. “Last school year, we served about 750 total students (of the school’s 2,300 students). The year before that, we helped about 350 students. This year, we’re on track to serve about 750 or even more. We have more poverty than we’ve had in the past at Hillcrest.”
The free market has a full pantry that includes items such as canned goods, pasta, oatmeal, Ramen and snacks in addition to fresh items.
“We do stock our fridge with eggs, milk, and sometimes we’ll have frozen meat as well,” Foley said. “Twice per month, we have our fresh produce market where we have fresh fruits and vegetables. Quite a few students come regularly every week to get food.”
Hillcrest also provides school supplies, clothing, hygiene items, laundry services and soap, and showers.
“My job as a community school facilitator is when they need those resources, I can say, ‘Here’s where you can go,’ so if, for example, they’re needing help with mental health resources, here somewhere you can go,” she said. “Or if they’re in need of a food bank, I can tell them there’s one here or if you need insurance, and you’re undocumented, here are some options. We try to connect those resources to the families in the community. We also have our district community school resource closet as well as our own to help students and their families.”
Foley said Hillcrest has a poverty level of 30%.
“Kids who want to use the market can come to my office and check in with me or our students support staff to see what they need,” she said “If they’re hungry, we try to determine what the issue is first. We see if they have free and reduced lunch or is it that you are just hungry, and we can we get you a lunch. We try to learn what the situation is and build a relationship. We do have Ramen and mac and cheese if it is something that they need.” She also said she has snacks in her office “because every teenager is hungry all the time, and it is a way of connecting with all students, not just our students in poverty.”
Foley said the city of Midvale recently has gotten a huge influx of new immigrants, including those from Colombia and Venezuela.
“We have a lot of students who are new immigrants, and we are the boundary school for the Midvale Road Home,” she said. “There’s also a lot of low-income housing going in the city right now, and so with that, we’re getting more students. Plus, after COVID, everybody is trying to figure out what to do, and this area got really hit hard. Everything contributes to this area having more need than in our surrounding schools in our district.”
Part of the funds students raised not only will go toward stocking the school pantry but also toward community events throughout the year, such as a back-to-school night, a health fair and a cultural night, Foley said.
School officials can also use funds in other circumstances.
“The other day, we were looking for a bike for a student who had a long walk,” Foley said. “We used our donations and found a bike for the student. Or if someone doesn’t have a blanket, we’ll go purchase a blanket.”
Student body officers were looking into different organizations to serve for the fundraiser. Foley learned from one of the counselors that they may be interested in helping refuges and talked to the student leaders.
“We’re the first stop they go to for school supplies, backpacks, and we provide them with food and some school clothes,” Foley said. “We then connect them to other resources. So, when we pitched that to them, they decided to help the free market, serving their peers right here at Hillcrest. They helped raise awareness of our market and fundraise for the services that we provide and get the community involved in that effort.”
Student body officer Elena Parker said that once the group “learned some statistics about our school and how many people in our school are impacted, we decided we could best help students in our school, which also benefits our community.”
Among the ways students raised money was through asking companies for donations, holding a dodgeball tournament and offering a kids’ movie night, “because that was pretty effective last year,” she said. They also held a “feast week,” partnering with local restaurants to receive a percentage of sales for the fundraiser.
The SBOs also got money for the free market through their winter formal dance ticket sales, having students pay for activities, such as to pie teachers at the opening assembly and through contributions made to “save or shave” students’ and faculty’s hair at the closing assembly.
“We also did odd jobs, where we went around to different neighborhoods and asked to do work for them in exchange for money,” Parker said. “Some were willing to give us a straight-up donation or donations of clothing for the free market. We learned that it isn’t scary to go out and talk to people and ask them for money, and the worst that can happen is they say that they’re not able to donate.”
Through the process, Parker said the SBOs practiced leadership skills.
“We learned that we need to put in the effort, to work as a team and not be afraid to rely on our team,” she said. “Within the team, we need to have clear communication. We learned to be open to other people’s ideas and to be open to criticism. I personally learned how to ask for help and to ask in advance, not last minute. I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish and that we’re able to help. I remember when it was first proposed to us; they said even $2,000 would be amazing so the fact that we were able to raise $22,000 plus some clothing donations was a big help for them.”
Foley is appreciative.
“We’re grateful that the SBOs did this for us and raised awareness for Hillcrest’s market because sometimes our diversity and our poverty level is overlooked when people look at Canyons School District,” she said. “It’s been really cool to see how the culture has changed this year.”
Currently, Hillcrest’s free market needs durable school backpacks and other items such as granola bars, Ramen, dish soap, sweatshirts, socks, pajama pants and more. You can see a list of other items the school needs for the pantry by going to https://a.co/83QlSLK. λ