FORSYTH, Mo. – Forsyth R-III School District’s Cents of Pride store has a unique form of currency.
“Kids get tickets from their teachers if they’re listening or being good, then they come here as a reward and spend those tickets to get cool stuff,” said Cents of Pride student volunteer Jade.
The store opens monthly, doling out inventory in exchange for students showing up to class and demonstrating effort in school work.
“Just obey, listen, respect your teachers,” explained Jade. “As long as you’re being good, you’ll usually get some tickets.”
Although Cents of Pride offers toys, games and accessories, the most popular items are essentials students have grown used to going without.
“Some kids do need necessities like shampoo or hairbrushes, at one point we gave out free soap because some kids didn’t have it,” said Forsyth incoming freshman Katelyn.
“Usually they’ll buy a lot of food in general,” continued Jade. “We’ll have like 50 little things of mac and cheese out, and by the time fifth grade comes in, we’ll have like two left.”
Students opt for those basics not only for themselves, but to hand out to loved ones as well.
“[The administration] thought a kid would come in and say ‘I worked hard, I’ve got good grades, I’ve got these tickets, I’m going to buy something fun,’ but we saw a lot of kids reach out and say ‘you know what, I know somebody that needs this other than myself,'” said Forsyth R-III School District superintendent Jeff Mingus.
Cents of Pride is funded by the Skaggs Legacy Endowment, and operated by Gift of Hope. Student volunteers keep the shelves stocked for their peers, in turn feeling rewarded by more than just the tickets they earn, according to Katelyn. “It makes me feel really good because I’m helping a kid, and then maybe one day they’ll help a kid.”