“The Warrior Within” project created to help Stillwater students in need

Librarian Amy Carpenter and Library Aide Megan Sanchez stand in front of Warrior Within sign
Librarian Amy Carpenter and Library Aide Megan Sanchez founded “The Warrior Within” project.

Dozens of students in our very own community are in need of help on a daily basis. In the Stillwater Central School District, those needs have not gone unnoticed and that’s why members of the school community are stepping up to help their own.

“The Warrior Within,” named for the Stillwater Warriors, was started by Stillwater Middle/High School Librarian Amy Carpenter and Library Aide Megan Sanchez. It’s a not-for-profit aimed at providing students in need with clothing, shoes and personal hygiene items- all through generous donations. Sanchez – who was involved with the district’s Backpack Program, where students receive food for the weekend, and the Snack Program, where hungry students can get a snack during the school day – discovered there were still other student needs that needed to be met.

Carpenter and Sanchez came up with a plan and notified friends, family, staff and the PTA of their mission. Soon after, they were overwhelmed with donations.

“The PTA gave us a monetary donation to get started,” Carpenter said. “Then, when they participated in the Festival of Trees, their theme was personal care. They ended up donating all of the items they collected to our project and for that, we are very grateful.”

After requesting some space to house all of their items, Carpenter and Sanchez landed in a small audio/visual room in the high school wing, alongside some science equipment. Next, The Friends of Rachel Club (a club devoted to kindness and compassion), a few members of National Honor Society, and Megan’s children, stepped in to sort and organize the donations.

So if you’re a student in need, how does it work? Usually, students are referred by teachers and other staff members who are aware of the students and their individual needs. The students then set up a time to meet with Sanchez confidentially and she helps them pick out whatever items they’re looking for.

“We want to help students go after opportunities that they may not pursue because they don’t have the support they need,” Sanchez said. “Whether it’s a pair of track cleats or an outfit for a concert, we want to provide them with those things so that they feel like they fit in.”

“It’s definitely gratifying when the students come back the next day and show us their new outfits,” Carpenter added. “We want the students to feel good about themselves and most importantly, we want them to maintain their dignity.”

How can you help? The Warrior Within is now accepting Amazon gift cards and monetary donations to purchase necessary items that may not be among the donations at this time. If you would like to donate, please contact Amy Carpenter at amycarpenter@scsd.org or Megan Sanchez at msanchez@scsd.org.