A very special store is making life easier for some Holland Public Schools students and families. The Power H Shop, located in Longfellow Elementary School, opens once a month for students and families experiencing a crisis or financial hardship to shop for essential day-to-day items for free.
The store is a collaboration between Holland Public Schools, Ottawa Community Schools Network (OCSN) and the Pathways to Potential Program from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Based on the national “Community School” model, OCSN began locally in 2017 and is funded by Ottawa Area ISD, Ottawa County Community Mental Health, partnering school districts, and state mental health funding. The OCSN program launched as a free service to districts as a pilot program. Once the pilot program ended, districts saw the value. All five participating schools re-committed and six more joined. Five years later, there are 21 Community Schools in seven Ottawa Area ISD school districts.
“The primary goal of OCSN is to ensure that all students are physically, emotionally and socially well with strong family supports to ensure each student develops to their potential,” Lauren Gray, OCSN Coordinator for Holland High School, says. “Being able to support an HPS family with free household items in a dignified retail setting helps offset their monthly costs, alleviates the financial stress many of our families face, and creates a better opportunity for students to thrive in a school environment.”
Mallory Timmer, OCSN Coordinator for Holland West Elementary School, says the work they do as a group is impossible without community partners. “It helps us get our work done and it's so encouraging to our team to see that not only our group is seeing the need our community has but our community itself is wanting to step up and help.”
Through partnerships with individual donors, local businesses and community organizations, the Power H Shop is fully stocked and easy to shop for school supplies, backpacks, cleaning supplies, seasonal clothing including winter coats and boots, personal hygiene needs and more.
As word of the Power H Shop spreads, they can offer items that go above and beyond to make a house a home through the power of donations.
Sue Woodward, the founder of David’s Sparks of Joy named after her late son who loved Christmas, heard about the Power H Shop and was inspired by what they were doing. So much so that she arranged to donate artificial Christmas trees plus ornaments, toppers, stockings, tree skirts and lights to families who need them.
“I was so impressed by how HPS is helping out their families I knew this is the place I wanted to give away my trees,” Sue says. Thirty-two families left the Power H Shop in December with a free Christmas tree and trimmings to brighten their homes during the holidays.
Sharon Fisher, second-generation owner of Apothecary Gift Shop in Holland says she is grateful for all the community has done for the Apothecary Gift Shop and decided to join forces with different non-profits with HPS being one of them.
“I believe kids need extra help these days with all the challenges they face,” Sharon says. “I asked customers and employees to join in supporting the Power H Shop so we can donate anything a family might need. It feels good to give back to the community.”
Thanks to all the community support, the December Power H Shop was an incredible success.
“One family told me they were so excited to finally have a Christmas tree,” Lauren says. “We often hear the Power H Shop is a big blessing for families. And that is why we’re here!”