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Campus Freestore rolls out accessible sustainable treasures

Emma Cubberley
On Feb. 6, 2024, the Office of Sustainability brings a free store roadshow in Plemmons Student Union. The roadshow consists of clothing and food that is free for any student to take.

A glittering table lined with warm, soft hats and gloves and decorated with sparkling pins lights up the International Hallway of the Plemmons Student Union. Smiling faces greet students who come to take a peek at what the store has to offer. A plethora of clean clothes dangle from hangers as quiet students browse through them. 

Every other Tuesday, the Office of Sustainability sets up the Freestore Roadshow from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Clothes donated to the Mountaineer Food Hub & Free Store are carted up to the student union and displayed for students.

Finley Collins, a first-year graduate student, was one of the sustainability ambassadors supervising the roadshow. She has been working with the Office of Sustainability since fall 2020.

“We are showing off just a sample from our free store hub in order to advertise the services we have for students,” Collins said.

In addition to basic wear, the roadshow features professional clothing, winter gear and shoes. 

“We’re just showing our support for the community and letting them know that we are here for them,” Collins said.

Though the Freestore Roadshow and on-campus food hubs were established years ago, Collins said the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic mitigated the number of people who utilized the Office of Sustainability’s resources. 

“Things were online, and they didn’t know about us,” she said. “Now, we’re doing this campaign more rigorously to increase engagement and just make sure our services are being used more widely.”

Katelyn McHale, a senior communication sciences and disorders major and sustainability ambassador, said the Office of Sustainability has so much more to offer than just clothes.

Volunteers pose at their clothing drive table in the student union on Feb. 6, 2024. (Emma Cubberley )

“We also have free food, of course,” she said. “We have free household items, such as blankets, sheets, towels and toiletries, and it’s all just for students.”

Because of the high foot traffic in the student union, the roadshow was strategically placed to garner more engagement with traveling students. 

“Not everybody has the time in their schedule to trek down to East Hall,” said Jessica Frazier, a junior biology major and sustainability ambassador. “I think by doing this, it is going to bring the opportunity to first introduce our show, and also to make it more accessible.”

Donations are what Frazier said fuel the store.

“Anybody can donate to the Office of Sustainability,” she said. “All you have to do is go down to our office at the bottom of East Hall.”

The office accepts donations Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Us being college students, a lot of people might as well take advantage of this,” said Abigail Bonser, a junior public relations major who visited the store with her friend. “This event might make us more aware of what App offers,” she said. 

Bonser said that App State needs to be better about promoting its resources that are available to students, so an event like the roadshow is a great way to advertise.

“This kind of opens them up to the options that they have,” she said.

Naomii Hayes, a junior theater education major, said she visits the Freestore Roadshow and Mountaineer Food Hub regularly. 

“It’s a good resource, especially because I live off campus,” Hayes said. “A lot of the time, I use the free store for groceries and clothes and stuff like that so I don’t have to worry about other expenses.”

A volunteer cycles through the clothes that were available at the Office of Sustainability’s free roadshow in Plemmons Student Union on Feb. 6, 2024. (Emma Cubberley)

Having resources such as the roadshow and food hubs means a lot to Hayes.

“It is a really big part of surviving, for me at least,” she said. “It’s a big pillar in my life, too, and I’m glad that we have it.”

Hayes said events like these are what she loves about App State.

“This is the kind of thing I think the Appalachian community represents, which is giving back, being sustainable and being friendly,” she said.

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About the Contributor
Madelyn Crawford (she/her) is a sophomore journalism major with a graphic communication management minor from Charlotte, NC.
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