KEOKUK (WGEM) – When Cayden King was in seventh grade, he saw that students needed clothes and everyday items.
“I thought about it and some other kids agreed with it, we started doing this room here, we did a thrift store so we can help kids that need clothes,” King said.
The Chief Exchange thrift store offers needy Keokuk students a chance to buy gently used clothing and teaches student workers how to run a business.
The store also provides deodorant, toothbrushes and other toiletries for those students who may need them.
Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates, also known as iJAG, partners with the school and is part of the reason the grocery store is here, said president and CEO Laurie Phelan.
“Any time young people can see themselves giving back and paying it forward in their community, even regardless of the struggles those young people had in their lives, it makes a big difference,” Phelan said.
She said the program’s mission is to bridge the gap between academics and careers for students.
“Helping young people see the connection between academics and where they’re going for the future, helping them engage in their learning, attending school, but also planning for that future career,” Phelan said.
Now a freshman, King said working at Chief Exchange has helped him figure out what he wants to do in the future.
“I think I’m going to go to college in Iowa and get a degree and become a lawyer and open a law firm,” King said.
iJAG Education Specialist Ann Vandenberg said this year at the Chief Exchange, students can rent homecoming dresses for their dance coming up this weekend.
“My students decided to take it a step further by renting dresses to take home to girls who maybe can’t afford it or don’t want to spend the money that’s been made,” Vandenberg said.
Homecoming dresses are $25 for high school students to rent, which will cover the cost of dry cleaning.
Students interested in renting a gown should contact Ann Vandenberg at Keokuk High School.
Vandenberg said she hopes to offer a prom dress rental service through the thrift store during the spring term of the school year.
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