‘This is such a blessing’: 2 Hopewell school counselors start food, clothing market for their students

Positively Richmond

HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — Two counselors at Hopewell City Public Schools are striving to make a difference in the lives of their students and their families.

Anna Sturrup and Amber Underhill — counselors at Harry E. James E.S. — along with school staff, spend the third Thursday of the month setting up donated items for families to come “shop.”

The Farmer’s Market and HEJ Clothing Closet came together in September after being two separate run programs — Feed More sponsored ‘backpack meals’ and a school clothing closet.

“During our September and October market we served approximately 76 students across 35 families,” Co-founder of the school market Amber Underhill told 8News. “Last week we nearly doubled that serving 145 students across 56 families.”

In total, November’s Farmer’s Market fed over 266 people.

Feed More is working with the market to help support students and their families. For the market’s November date, Feed More donated over 3.000 pounds of food to HEJ.

“Our families come through and leave with groceries to feed their families for a few days rather than us sending home weekend meals for only 45-50 students,” Amber Underhill said.

HEJ families who come shop at the market said the program, “is such a blessing” and that it’s something they really needed.

Underhill expressed to 8News the great need for a clothing closet at the school, saying that students would often come up to teachers asking for clothing items but teachers had to means to fill that need.

But now with the market, teachers are able to help their students and in return alleviate pressure off their families, proving that it does take a village.

Underhill said they are “overwhelmed with gratitude” as clothing donations keep pouring in.

“Students regularly stop by, or a parent calls in, asking if we have a pair of shoes or a hoodie we can pass on to them,” Underhill told 8News. “It’s wonderful to now say yes, we can do that.

The counselors and staff at HEJ are looking forward to serving over 75 families during their next market. They say they hope to “brighten the holidays for many of their students and family.”

The next market will take place on December 19 at Harry E. James E.S. from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Please note it is limited to those served academically by HEJ.

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