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How these students changed my life

PeopleDee Darden, Customer Experience Supervisor3 Comments

In honor of National Volunteer Month, we are highlighting employees that lead volunteering for their store or team, and the partnerships they have formed with local organizations to create change in their community.

This is the second of two volunteer-focused posts.

Standing outside of Notasulga High School in Notasulga, Alabama, all you see is an old, run-down school building.

It runs on a minuscule operating budget, barely able to afford the basic necessities. With these financial struggles, students must have fundraisers to finance after-school activities and sports.

I was first introduced to the school when a private donor came into the Gap looking to buy school uniforms. Our store, in Auburn, reached out to our district and found the 300-plus items the kids needed. And when I walked into the school for the first time to distribute the uniforms, my life was forever changed.  

I met the most amazing children who, despite their circumstances and hardships, had a passion for learning and true love for their school. I decided then and there that I would make it my mission to positively impact their lives.  

I returned to my store, shared the story, and with the help of my coworkers, our community partnership began.

For our first event, we collected school supplies during our fall Friends and Family event. Our Gap Auburn family, customers and employees collected more than 20 boxes filled with backpacks, pens, paper, and supplies. The children and teachers were so grateful for the donation that they organized an entire school program around it. (Click here to see video of a student-led rap song thanking Gap.)

Since then, we’ve started a clothing closet, held a fashion show with donations benefitting the school (the photo above features the show models), collected boxtops, and adopted 18 children for Christmas. 

We have started a volunteer website and are promoting it on the local university campus. Our largest event to date will take place in August when we host a citywide event to collect back to school supplies accompanied by a fundraiser ball.

Every time we walk through the halls, we hear, “thank you, Gap” from every student we pass. 

These children have put their imprint on all of our hearts and created a partnership based on love.