YAKIMA, Wash. - East Valley High School is opening the doors to the Devil's Den, a free food and clothing pantry for students, on Friday. The pantry will be open to all students regardless of need.
Student Learning Improvement Coordinator Coach, Ashley Griffith says the school hopes the pantry to focus on their learning, rather than their needs.
"We want kids to not be self-conscious and concerned about what they're wearing in the class," said Griffith. "If they can come in here and get a new pair of jeans that makes them feel better than they can focus on their learning because they're not worried about the way they look or what they're wearing."
EVHS recently surveyed students, asking if they would benefit from access to a food and clothing pantry. Out of 530 students, 200 said yes, and 190 said maybe.
The numbers from the survey fall in line with a low-income population as deemed by the OSPI.
Griffith says the school will accommodate students that need to access the Devil's Den and can schedule a time for students to browse the pantry without other students if they are self-conscious about using the resources.
The pantry will have a no-questions asked policy allowing any student to take advantage of the opportunity, whether regularly or a one time occurrence.
"We're not asking why you think you need it," said Griffith. "We're not asking you any questions that are personal. It's just open and free...So then if everybody's using it for some level of need, hopefully kids will be comfortable with it."
The school has funded the pantry to this point with donations from organizations such as Fred Meyer, Walmart, and Washington Fruit. School organizations have helped the cause, with the National Honor Society and Devil Prevention clubs reaching out to the community for donations.
The Devil's Den is aimed to provide students with the resources they need to be successful and avoid adding to the growing number of homeless youth in the Yakima valley.
Acting Executive Director of Rod's House, Brian Ahern, commends the work EVHS is putting in for their students.
"Basic food and hygiene and clothing is a necessity for anyone, and we know that just because someone attends school doesn't necessarily indicate that they have a safe or stable housing arrangement and that maybe they need that extra support," said Ahern.
The school is still accepting donations and volunteers from the community to keep the pantry stocked and organized. The forms to sign up to donate or volunteer are on the school website.