, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 26, 2014

Paying it forward

Student turns used clothes into food for Salvation Army

BYFIELD — Emmy Cole of the Byfield’s Governor’s Academy is hoping to turn unwanted items into someone else’s treasure with her second annual Govs Goes Green clothing sale next month.

On May 10, Cole and Newburyport’s Salvation Army will open a one-day thrift store, selling donated clothing from the private school in exchange for canned goods, non-perishable foods and personal care items.

Cole, a sophomore, has been collecting clothing from the students, faculty and friends of the Governor’s Academy for two weeks. With many of the students boarding during the school year, as they return overseas and across the country for summer vacation, many throw away old clothing rather than pay for expensive shipping or storage costs. Cole hopes she can turn that waste into an opportunity for both the middle class and the less fortunate.

“We want to make high-quality clothes accessible to local people,” she said. “Then, we want to feed local people. The idea is keeping things local, because... there’s this discrepancy of accessibility in our neighborhoods, right down the road from you. So we’re trying to help different types of people through just one project.”

The Govs Goes Green project started last year when Cole opted out of a school sports requirement to do community service instead. A Chicago native, Cole grew up with a mother who made a point of exposing her to the overwhelming disparities of wealth between nearby neighborhoods. In high school, she wanted to do the same for her fellow students.

“I got thrown into a private school up here and there’s this exorbitant amount of wealth and opportunities,” Cole said of her freshman days. “This contrast being realized, ‘Hey, there is this issue of accessibility right down the road. How can we use a boarding school setting to our advantage?’”

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