TEMPLE, TX — With 15 years of teaching experience under her belt, Chelsea Vasquez, a Temple ISD teacher who works with students who need extra life skills help, knows it’s going to take more than just a textbook to help her students gain real-life experience.
“They fix their own breakfast food, they do they’re own cleanup, then we usually do some form of exercise,” she said, explaining her daily routine with the students. “Then, we usually go to different areas in the community for job sites.”
That’s when the idea of Thrifty Wildcats was born.
It’s an on-campus thrift store operated by her students who have fulfilled their high school graduation requirements.
The goal is to help them gain the confidence needed while working at a job after they complete the Wildcat Plus program.
”To know that it’s something that they’ll be super proud of,” she said. “They’re super proud of themselves when they know they’re helping others.”
The idea came to life after they accepted a near $1,300 grant from the Temple Education Foundation.
“The whole SPED department was there to celebrate with her and she was just so humble that didn't even feel like it was, you know, that big of a deal,” Sharon Williams, the grant chair of the foundation said. “But it is.”
With the money, the students can get to work, all while benefiting the Temple community, providing another resource for those in need.
“I was going to address them [community outreach partners] and let them know when you have this family please email us, let us know, and then my students, whatever the need is, if we have it we will put it together,” Vasquez explained.
For now, the store will only accept donations from faculty members so it won’t be overwhelming for the students.
Eventually, she hopes for the store to grow and to start accepting clothing and toy donations from the community in the future.