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13-Year-Old Creates School Pantry for Students in Need

Chase Neyland-Square created and works the pantry several hours a week, summer break included.

Child's clothes on hangers

Chase Neyland-Square, a student at Port Allen Middle School in Louisiana, is bringing the community together to help students in need. The eighth grader is the mastermind behind “PAM’s Pantry,” a school closet filled with essential products provided through community donations.

The pantry, which is located behind a stage in the school’s gym, has clothes, school supplies, hygiene products and shoes for students in need. Students can walk right in and grab what they need or ask a school receptionist or teacher to get a product or clothing for them.

Neyland-Square came up with the concept during a summer program that gives students the opportunity to brainstorm and pitch ideas that could improve the school and community, while also creating young leaders.

According to The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Neyland-Square’s main objective when pitching the idea was to prevent bullying and support students in need of new clothes or basic hygiene products.

“I wanted to make a difference in the school because I wanted everybody to feel equal,” he told CBS affiliate WAFB in Baton Rouge. “Sometimes kids have less confidence in the classroom because of their apparel or what they have on.”

The school principal, Jessica Major, believes the pantry has had a significant impact on students’ self-esteem and overall class attendance. According to technology teacher Michelle Tureau, not only are students more confident with their appearance, but they have a better focus on the material being taught in the classroom.

Neyland-Square, who also ran a donation drive in which he gathered 600 pairs of socks for homeless shelters in the past, wants to continue igniting change even after he graduates middle school.

 “I’m going to come back and continue working on PAM’s Pantry,” he said of his future plans. “I’m hoping one day I could turn it into a non-profit organization.”

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