The Cents of Pride store at Branson High School opened in December 2014 and since that time, thousands of items have been sold but no money has been exchanged. Instead, the Cents of Pride store works off of “Buccaneer Bucks,” offering students an opportunity to receive essential items they may not be able to afford.
Students earn Buccaneer Bucks by displaying a positive attitude, maintaining good attendance and turning class assignments in on time. Every students starts out the year with $25 and can earn up to $15 each week.
“What I love about this program is every kid in this building is on an equal level in this store,” says Marla Sheil, who teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) and manages the store. “Every student gets what they earn. We are just the scorekeepers. Nobody gets a handout here.”
The store, in Room 221 at Branson High School, is filled with backpacks, blankets, pillows, clothing, hygiene items, small electronics, household products, school supplies and more.
The store opened with start-up fees from the Slusher Foundation and in early 2015, received funds from the Branson Education Foundation. Since that time, the district has received Skaggs Legacy Endowment grants which have allowed the store to greatly expand its offerings. Last school year, nearly 1,000 students took advantage of the program.
“Many of our students face food insecurities, meaning they don’t always have food available at home,” explains Brenda Romine, Branson Public Schools communication director. “Students can eat breakfast and lunch at school through the federally funded Free/Reduced Lunch Program, but an evening meal or weekend food are not an option for many of our students. Thanks to the Skaggs Legacy Endowment, we’ve been able to keep our shelves stocked with non-perishable foods for students living in sometimes unpredictable situations. Students can also get items they need, but their family may not be able to afford, such as laundry soap, deodorant and even ear buds.”
“Kids who need their dignity preserved, it is being preserved by their own actions,” Sheil says.
The program also encourages student responsibility and budgeting.
Skaggs Legacy Endowment is a restricted endowment fund made possible by a generous gift from CoxHealth in 2013. Since that time, Skaggs Foundation has awarded more than $3.5 million to organizations dedicated to improving health and wellness in Stone and Taney counties.