Central High School

Attention to all smart shoppers in the area: Champaign Central High School’s National Honor Society has clothing deals for you.

The organization, back in full swing after being interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, is opening a one-day Thrift Store. It runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Community members are encouraged to check it out. Bring your wallets.

Shoppers can enter at the Lynn Street visitors doors to the store in the dance room near the north gym.

There are also store hours Thursday before school, during lunch and after school for students, faculty and staff only.

All proceeds are going to Feeding Our Children, a Champaign County charity.

Central faculty members Erin Cornelius and Veronica Thompson are serving as sponsors for the NHS, which is open to juniors and seniors with a 3.5 unweighted grade-point average or higher. There are currently 159 members.

Once invited to apply, members must speak to the four pillars of NHS: service, leadership, character and scholarship.

The NHS dates back more than a century, and Champaign High’s participation started in the mid-1920s.

During the pandemic, there weren’t requirements for volunteering. Normally volunteerism is a big focus of the organization.

“When Erin and I sat down, we said one thing the kids need is they’re not used to going out there and looking for ways to volunteer,” Thompson said. “One thing we wanted to do as a priority was reach out to community members and bring that back to the school.”

Cornelius and Thompson work well together. They spend time on it every day.

“It’s been really, really gratifying to see the kids out there,” Thompson said.

Creating a plan

At the first meeting of the school year, group members were asked “What are your ideas?”

The Thrift Store concept jumped out.

“It helps with the environment,” said Central NHS president Samantha Cook. “We’re not throwing away clothes. It gives back to the community. There are people who don’t make a lot of money and they can come to or Thrift Store and buy clothes that may usually be $10, $15 or $20 they can get for $1, $2, $3. That’s our motive behind it.”

NHS members are making signs that will be posted at the school and in the neighborhood, offering information about the sale,

“We’re hoping to have 1,500 to 2,000 clothes, maybe a little bit more than that,” Cook said.

Quick question: Where is the merch coming from?

Current members were asked to donate at least 10 items each. It won’t be out of the laundry basket. Items must be freshly washed and in good condition. All types of stuff, geared mostly toward young adults. Kids stuff, too,

“All the members who have brought in things have brought in more than 10 items,” Cook said.

The deadline for donations was April 14.

Making it work

NHS members signed up for various tasks leading up to and on the day of the sale, Some are folders and hangers. Others are making posters and flyers for students and parents.

“Everything is student-run,” Cook said. “All of it is volunteer work that goes toward those volunteer National Honor Society hours.”

Cornelius, Thompson, Cook, vice president Amberlyn Aimone, secretary Ava Borbely and treasurer Allison Hobson will be chipping in extra time to make sure all goes well.

“We know there are going to be little hiccups throughout the way, we have enough people to keep it running and we’re super excited to get as many people in the community as possible,” Cook said.

She is quick to praise her fellow officers.

“They do just as much as I do and work really hard,”Cook said.

The school is on board with the Thrift Store.

Cornelius and Thompson thanked principal Joe Williams and the Central administration for their cooperation.

“We have brought a lot of new ideas to (Williams) and from the very beginning, he has said yes to everything,” Thompson said.

Cook appreciates the hard work of the sponsors.

“Everyone seems equal. I feel like my voice is heard just as much as everybody else’s,” Cook said.

“A lot of thanks to them.”

How much does the NHS hope to raise?

Depends who you ask, At least $1,500 with $5,000 within reach.

Any clothing that goes unsold will be donated to C-U’s Salt & Light.

The Thrift Store is one of the final volunteer opportunities before graduation.

But the group kept busy all year, including helping at Homer Lake, during Halloween, at Cunningham Children’s Home and at local food pantries.

Members are also working during next week’s Illinois Marathon.

Cook wants the Thrift Store to become an annual spring event for the NHS.

Cook, a senior, just picked a college.

She is going to Grinnell in Iowa. She will be a member of the Pioneers swim team.

Cook plans to eventually go to medical school and would like to become a doctor.