GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) – Opening a business has proven to be a challenging task, and even a bold move during the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Gallia High School senior Emma Shamblin, however, has been able to open her own store, along with 20 other students in the “Leader in Me” program at the school. The ‘store,’ is called “the Hanger,” and it’s not really interested in a monetary profit. Rather, they’re interested on a model of meeting a need.
Shamblin spends her free time stocking up the “Hanger” with just about anything a middle or high school student could ever possibly need. Shirts, shoes, jackets, prom dresses, cleats, hats, earrings, hygienic products, ties, coats, and even some items with school spirit. All of it, available to any student at South Gallia for free.
There’s no paperwork, no questions, and no judgement, as hard times not seen since the 2008 recession plague Appalachian communities. All students need to do is go to “The Hanger” room during their planning period.
“We had actually started by offering hygiene kits,” Shamblin said. “We definitely saw a need for that and we wanted to start with clothes, as well.”
Shamblin went to her math teacher, Carey Roberts, who helped her create the space. Roberts says she wasn’t surprised Emma had such an innovative idea. Shortly after, posts on social media would lead the community to contribute many of these items.
“They’ve donated all these items to us, and I could not be any more grateful for that,” Shamblin said.
With the pandemic impacting already impoverished areas, more families find themselves needing a little more help. Some, even for the very first time.
“The opportunity presented itself,” Shamblin said. “We just saw a need, and we just decided to go with it.”
The South Gallia community is now receiving hope from the next generation, who are helping their own while paving the road to a world where young and old are always extending a helping hand.
“This has helped our community tremendously,” Shamblin said. “I’m so grateful kids are using it, and even if they aren’t, just to have the option available.”
Shamblin’s story doesn’t really have an ending. It just lays the foundation of her vision by helping those hanging onto a thread of hope.
Shamblin tells WSAZ she and Roberts have received calls from other school districts, asking how they can get a program like South Gallia’s started at their own schools.
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