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John Monfredo: Worcester’s South High Teaches a Lesson in Giving

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Andy's Attic at the South High Community School in Worcester.

Schools, in general, mirror what’s taking place in society and for many schools it’s not only about academics but it’s about meeting the everyday needs of its students. Way back in 1943 American Psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a paper on the ‘Theory of Human Motivation” and developed a “pyramid of needs for everyone. The number one basic needs for the survival of individuals were that of food, clothing and shelter.

South High Principal Maureen Bineinda and her staff have recognized those needs and they have tried to assist those students. The school started a “food pantry” a few years ago due to a lack of food security and a community garden was developed to assist students and families who lacked “food security.”

Andy's Attic

Just recently, during the holiday season and during our cold spell, the school opened up a used clothing store, called “Andy’s Attic.”

According to Christine Foley, physical education teacher, who lives in Shrewsbury and the person responsible for initiating Andy’s Attic at South High stated she had heard about Andy Reese a 16 year Shrewsbury High School killed in a tragic car accident in December of 2010. Andy was a thoughtful, kind person who actively showed his compassion by reaching out o teenagers and kids in need. In Andy’s memory and honor, Andy’s Attic was developed by his parents, Darrell and Lisa Reese. Ms. Foley heard about the project and started to assist in Andy’s Attic that was housed first in the Reese’s home and then at a warehouse in Shrewsbury. According to Ms. Foley, “as Andy’s Attic grew, my orders grew and I found myself passionately involved and loving the feeling of giving to my students… I filled 190 bags of clothes for our South High kids alone last year. We found that behind every teenager in need there was an entire family in need, so we helped everyone who asked for clothing. Reaching out to engaging a number of families with clothing issues led us to also assist many of them with not only clothes but other basic household needs.”

Then, in the summer of 2013, Mrs. Reese was moving to Florida and asked Ms. Foley if she was interested in taking over the organization. Ms. Foley called Principal Bineinda to ask for help and Principal Bineinda generously offered space at South High.

Clothes were delivered from its warehouse site and with the assistance of over 30 volunteer students, assistance from the Worcester Housing Authority, Unum volunteers, volunteers from Hanover Theater and an array of staff members, the clothes were organized by sizes and placed on shelves. Since then more clothing has come from the staff, from many businesses and churches in the area. Not only are the clothes going to needy students at South High but just recently bags were distributed to families in Shrewsbury, North High, Doherty, the Gerald Creamer Center, Chandler Elementary, Red Cross, Belmont Community School and Union Hill Elementary School.

Ms. Foley and Principal Binienda are quick to point out that the South High Students assisting in the project have been amazing. Each student who comes for the community service unit at the school is dedicated and hard working. Students working after school and during their study hall time have done a fantastic job in getting the store in operation.

Any student in need of clothing fills out a slip with the type of clothing needed and its size. Then the order is filled by a student volunteer. South High, a school that has received awards for its “Service Learning,” has students excited about making a difference for other students. Crystal Nguyen –grade 11 stated, “I would help every day if I could because it makes me happy when I know I can help others in need when they receive these clothes.” Another student, Santhana Xapilak, grade 11, echoed, “From folding clothes to packing orders is one step closer to helping our community.”

Ms. Foley reminds the students each time they leave Andy’s Attic that “they did a wonderful thing today… you helped someone, so feel good about what you did today.”

The staff at the school certainly models a community of caring for Eileen Roach and Marsha Binienda of the Special Education Department stated that since Andy’s Attic has opened we have been able to provide warm clothing for those cold mornings while our children wait for their busses or while walking to school. It has also allowed children who could not afford new clothing to obtain many new articles of clothing. We have also supplied many families who have lost everything due to fire and hardships.

As Principal Binienda stated, “there is a real need out there for so many students are in need of clothing… My life has been enriched daily by the conversations and stories being told by our students volunteering in Andy’s Attic.

What's next?

I asked Ms. Foley about what’s next for Andy’s Attic and she responded, “Since our article in the Telegram and Gazette my e-mail and phone has been ringing with people who want to donate and help out. My car and garage are full with bags of clothes from generous people who drop off bags of beautiful gently used clothing. Monetary donations have also helped out for we have been able to purchase many coats, hats, mittens, gloves, pajamas and undergarments for the students and their families.”

Any individual or group interested may drop off items at South High School or arrangements can be made for donations to be picked up. You can e-mail Christine Foley at Christine@foleymail.com or call her at 508 735-8507.

In general, society watches those school buses run through their community without a clue of the many hardships that are occurring with many students and their families. It is so heartwarming to hear about how a school with dedicated individuals can inspire students to step up and help make a difference in lives of so many individuals. Remember, “Happiness doesn’t result for what we get, but from what we give.”


Related Slideshow: 30 Ways To Give In Central Mass This Holiday Season

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Salvation Army

The Salvation Army’s traditional red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene, with millions of dollars donated each year to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless. Donations provide and financial assistance provides Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys for families in need including families of prisoners. Simply make a donation wherever you see their trademark red kettle or do so online by clicking here.

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Goodwill Mass accepts donations of men's, women's or children's clothing and other textiles. Some of the clothing donations are provided to our clients who may need an outfit for an interview or a one week supply of clothing for a new job. Most is sold to neighboring Goodwills, or as salvage with all revenues raised going back into programs and services for Rhode islanders.

You may drop off your old clothing at one of the many clothing donation bins throughout the state or at the drop-box located in 25 Park Avenue, Worcester.

Click here for more information.

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Operation Homefront

Formed in 2002, Operation Homefront is a nonprofit organization developed to support military families. On December 14, Operation Homefront will host a “Holiday Toys for Military Kids” event in Wellesly Hills, Taunton, and Springfield from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Toys are limited and are on a first come, first serve registration process. Once your registration is complete you will receive a confirmation email. Please note that this program is for military dependent children only.

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African Community Education Program

Donate non-perishable food items such as rice, beans, and canned vegetables for Thanksgiving distribution by November 21. Donate new or gently used winter clothing such as boots, hats, scarves, and coats to be distributed to ACE families during the holiday season. Donations accepted November – January.

Contact: Amy Connery (508) 799-3653

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AIDS Project Worcester

Donate gift cards, new toys, and new clothes; personal care items such as soap, shampoo, washcloths, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, and disposable diapers; and canned goods for December holiday food baskets.

Contact: Patricia Price (508) 755-3773

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Alternatives Unlimited

Donate tickets to sporting events, theatres, and movies; specialty food items, health and beauty items; kitchen essentials; gift baskets; and gift certificates to grocery stores, pharmacies, and department stores.

Contact: Sandra Marquis (508) 266-6517

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Auburn Youth and Family Services

Donate new toys, games, and books for children of all ages; grocery store gift cards for holiday food baskets; gifts for teens such as movie passes, music, gaming gift cards, and personal care items; and gift cards to clothing and shoe stores to purchase gifts for children and teens. Adopt a family and provide gifts for Christmas. Call for details.

Contact: Sheryl Spafford (508) 832-5707 ext. 10

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Big Brother Big Sisters Central MA

Donate gift cards to local grocery and discount stores; board games; craft supplies; sports equipment and balls; and other small gift items suitable for children.

Contact: Melanie Perreault (508) 752-7868 ext. 14

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Boys and Girls Club of Worcester

Donate holiday gifts for children ages 5 – 18 including gift cards for teens to purchase items such as movies, music, and clothing; grocery store gift cards to purchase holiday meals for families in need; and wrapping paper and supplies such as bows and cards. Adopt a family for the holidays and provide gifts. Call for details.

Contact: Liz Hamilton (508) 754-2686

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Burncoat Family Center

Donate new toys, books, clothes, outerwear, boots, and gift cards for boys and girls ages 4 – 18; gift certificates for movies, bowling, and other activities; non-religious holiday decorations and gift-wrap; and food for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Contact: Anna Berin (508) 853-6988

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Catholic Charities

Donate new winter coats, gloves, mittens, and hats for adults and children; gift cards to pharmacies, grocery stores, and discount retail stores; and non-perishable food donations.

Contact: Cynthia Taberner (508) 860-2206

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Central MA Housing Alliance

Donate gifts for homeless children of all ages and new household items for more than 80 homeless families including sheet sets, blankets, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, and gift cards to discount and grocery stores. Gifts for teens especially needed.

Contact: Katherine Kerr (508) 791-7265

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Children's Friend Inc

Donate gift cards for discount and grocery stores that will be distributed to needy families during the holiday season to be used for food, clothes, and gifts.

Contact: Karen Ludington (508) 459-6424

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Community Healthlink - Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program

Donate winter hats and gloves and gift cards to discount stores, grocery stores, and fast food restaurants.

Contact: Brian Bickford (508) 860-1139

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Community Healthlink - Victim Services

Donate new coats, hats, gloves, and mittens for children, adolescents, and adults of all sizes. Donate new board games and gift cards in denominations of $10 – $25.

Contact: Amanda Atchue (508) 421-4501

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Dare Family Services

Donate toys and other items for children ages 10 – 18. Items for teens especially needed.

Contact: Armida Martinez

(508) 755-7100

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Dismas House

Donate gift cards for male residents: sheets and blankets, toiletries, hats, gloves, and pajamas.

Contact: David McMahon

(508) 799-9389

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Family Health Center of Worcester

Donate new items for newborns and mothers in need: baby blankets, toiletries, newborn undergarments, socks, bibs, infant equipment such as car seats, new maternity clothes, and gift cards for discount and grocery stores. Donate new items for immigrants/refugees such as gloves and mittens, hats, scarves, and home first aid kits. Donate new household items for homeless families including sheet sets, blankets, cooking utensils, pots and pans, and dishes.

Contact: Georgianna Sgariglia

(508) 860-7951

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Elder Services of Worcester

Donate small toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo to be used as gifts for Meals on Wheels recipients.

Contact: Julia Martiros

(508) 852-3205

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Family Success Partnership

Donate gift cards to grocery stores to purchase items for a holiday meal; gift cards to discount stores; and children’s winter clothing including gloves, socks, and small-sized winter coats.

Contact: Courtney Hale

(774) 245-5416

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Frances Perkins and Foundations

Donate educational toys for children ages 1 – 12; gift cards and gift certificates; and household items such as bedding, pots and pans; personal hygiene products, and diapers.

Contact: Ivonne Suarez

(508) 757-7506

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YWCA of Central MA

Donate coats for women, children, and teens; hats and gloves; books for all ages, journals, and gift cards to discount and grocery stores.

Contact: Amarely Gutierrez

(508) 755-5371 ext. 3014

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Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital

Donate men’s and women’s clothing in all sizes (especially XL and plus sizes) such as sweaters, sweatshirts, sweatpants, jeans, underwear, and t-shirts; toiletries such as hairbrushes, makeup, shampoo, body wash, and lotion; inexpensive male and female jewelry items such as crosses, watches, and rings; games, cards, word search books, and other small gift items.

Contact: Sandy Epstein

(508) 368-3524

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Worcester Housing Authority

Donate Christmas trees and decorations for use in resident community rooms; pie filling or grocery store gift cards for holiday food; and hats and gloves for children in all sizes.

Contact: Lynn O’Toole

(508) 635-3306

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Worcester County Food Bank

Donate non-perishable food for distribution to area emergency feeding programs. Drop off items Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 474 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury. Please call the office before dropping off. Please visit www.foodbank.org for more information.


(508) 842-3663

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Horace Mann Educational Associates

Donate linens and blankets, craft supplies, gloves, hats, scarves, and gift cards to pharmacy and grocery stores. Items donated to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Contact: Tracy Andryc

(508) 298-1129

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Key Program

Donate small gifts for teenage girls in residential shelter such as warm socks, gloves, scarves, hats, journals, and hygiene products.

Contact: Stephanie Towne

(508) 852-6277

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Donate toys for children ages 2 and up including Disney toys, Dora, pretend food items, art supplies, model cars, blocks, and books; gift cards to toy and discount stores. Gift items for teenage boys especially needed.

Contact: Melissa Murphy

(508) 762-3205

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Nativity School of Worcester

Donate navy blue blazers, white button down shirts, khaki pants, belts, and dress shoes for boys in sizes from boys’ small to men’s medium; sports equipment such as baseballs, soccer balls, and related items; art supplies and music equipment such as instruments, scores, and songbooks.

Contact: Patrick Maloney

(508) 799-0100

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American Red Cross of Central MA

Join us for our annual “Holiday for Heroes” campaign. Assist by reviewing, categorizing, and bundling holiday cards that will be delivered to veterans in Central MA. You would need to dedicate about three hours for this one-time seasonal event in early December. Call to schedule date.

Contact: Ray Duffy (508) 595-3762



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