Thrift store helping local students with activities

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As schools have had to tighten budget belts because of federal and state cuts to education, extracurricular program activities have often been the first casualties.

Rural schools are doubly affected because they usually don’t have the funding and opportunities for activities, such as robotics and science competitions. But Creighton Edington, a School of Dreams Academy science and math teacher, and Tommy Evans, a member of the San Jon Municipal School Board of Education, are working to remedy the situation for their small town schools.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Amanda Edington is the manager at REAP Thrift store in Bosque Farms. The Rural Education Advancement Program REAP is a non-profit organization to support science and robotics programs in rural schools.

To that end, Evans founded a non-profit organization called REAP, Rural Education Advancement Program, five years ago to help fund as many rural New Mexico schools as possible, Edington said.

Edington is the vice president of REAP, and collaborated with Evans to open a REAP Thrift Store in Bosque Farms.

Proceeds will help fund science fairs and robotics competitions such as Supercomputing Challenges, FIRST robotics, BEST robotics, Botball and others.

The thrift store is a 3,200 square-foot warehouse at 1280 Bosque Farms Blvd., located behind the Jiffy Lube. Currently, his 20-year-old daughter, Amanda,, is managing the store while she is on break from college.

“My dad’s idea behind it is (rural schools are) running out of funding for the robotics programs, and that’s his big thing,” she said. “He helps kids get scholarships and get recognized by colleges with these robotics competitions, that’s how he gets these kids a bit more of a future they might not otherwise have.”

The building also houses workshop space, so students can work on projects on the weekends and during the summer.

“We’re going to have workshops, programming lessons and robot building,” she said. “It’ll be partially a store, and partially a workshop for kids.”

Besides cash donations to cover start-up and operating expenses, the Edingtons are looking for volunteers and materials.

The thrift store opened in March, and still needs clothes racks, hangers, display cases, shelves, or materials to build these items.

Donated items of a high value and easy to ship will be sold on the REAP eBay account. This will help ensure maximum return on donated items, she said.

In the future, the REAP Thrift Store also will host Saturday Science Academy events for elementary students, and crafting programs for adults.

The program pursues grants, donations, and any kind of funding it can to support these kinds of programs at rural schools, so the kids have more for their future, she said.

“The store will need another manager when she returns to college. the end of the summer.

For more information, call 814-933-7035. The REAP Thrift Store is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.