APS Column: The Packer Pantry at Austin High School is there to help students

Published 5:30 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

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By Melinda Huntley

Packer Pantry Coordinator

The Packer Pantry at Austin High School was started during the 2019-2020 school year by students who saw other Big 9 schools with a store to help those in need of food, clothing, school supplies, or personal care items. These students reached out to the Austin community, which in turn donated items to launch the Packer Pantry. In the spring of 2020, the pandemic shut down in-person learning and just a few students used the Pantry weekly. In the fall of 2020, students were in school two days a week, leading to a little more use of the Pantry. Finally, in the fall of 2021, the Pantry took off, and the community continued to support it. This year, students have been utilizing the Pantry at a higher rate than ever before. We are open Mondays and Thursdays before and after school and on average will help more than 80 students each day.

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The Packer Pantry seeks to provide clothing, towels, food of all sorts, blankets, and school supplies, as well as personal-care items such as deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, hand soap, body lotion, and bodywash for both guys and gals. We also have cleaning supplies and detergent.

The Packer Pantry depends on the Austin community for support. We have received donations from community members, businesses, clubs, organizations, and from our wonderful alumni community. We truly understand that without everyone’s help, there would be no Packer Pantry. We cannot thank the Austin Community enough. You make this a wonderful experience for our students.

Some student’s comments:

“If it wasn’t for the Packer Pantry, my family would never have enough food or items to get through the week.”

“The Packer Pantry is a total blessing to us and our family.”

There are many ways to help the Packer Pantry out, whether it be cash, check (made out to the Packer Pantry/United Way who is our 501c fiscal agent and a very helpful group), gift cards, clothing or products. The cash or online donations can be sent to Melinda Huntley/Packer Pantry at 301 3rd St. NW Austin. We also have drop off sites for clothing and products at Sterling Main Street, Jim’s Super Value, Sweet Reads, and at AHS Door 1 (the ramp door on the east side of the building).

The Packer Pantry is an invaluable resource for our students and families, and its reach is only continuing to grow. Please consider helping support this amazing community resource and making a direct impact on the lives of our students.