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Third-graders collect donations for high school pantry

Ashley Morales



Lydia Frederick (left) and Charlotte Waltz unloaded more than 100 bags of donations for the Green Devil Closet and Pantry Wednesday at St. Petersburg High School. Photos by Ashley Morales.

Two local children have gone above and beyond to pay it forward in St. Petersburg.

Lydia Frederick and Charlotte Waltz, third-grade students at Bay Vista Fundamental Elementary School, took on the task of filling the shelves at the Green Devil Closet and Pantry at St. Petersburg High School (SPHS) as part of a school service-learning project. 

Tracey Keim, a teacher at St. Pete High for nearly 20 years and an alum herself, started the Green Devil Closet and Pantry (named after the school’s mascot) in 2006 in her classroom. It first began with prom dresses, then grew from there to providing students with toiletries, food, clothing, school supplies and other essentials, free and available to all.

Tracey Keim, the St. Petersburg High School teacher who started the Green Devil Closet and Pantry in 2006, said the free items the closet provides to students help “Promote success in the community and in the hallways.”

“The Green Devil closet is about two things: Promoting dignity and modeling benevolence,” Keim said. “Everyone deserves to have clean clothes and clean underpants, right? They need to have deodorant, kids especially, and they need to be able to clean their home. Sometimes food stamps don’t provide what you need to run a household, so students can come here and get what they need without question or judgement.”

The third-graders found out about Keim’s closet from Lydia’s grandmother, who was a teacher at St. Pete High for 10 years. Throughout April, Lydia and Charlotte went door-to-door in their neighborhood, encouraging families to donate items for high school students and their families.

“There were lists from Miss Keim with all different stuff [the pantry needed], so we made flyers, printed them out and asked people to help with the stuff that we needed and wanted people to help us get,” Lydia said.

To their delight and surprise, they collected more than 100 bags filled with donations from the community. The children said the experience helped them understand the importance of helping others and making a difference in their community.

“It helps kids who don’t have what they need. We have what we need, but they don’t, so they need that stuff,” Charlotte explained. “Now they can come to Keim’s closet and say, ‘Oh, can I have a toothbrush?’”

Wednesday afternoon, the girls unloaded their donations with help from family and the Green Devil mascot. St. Pete High senior Cassidy Deroche wears the mascot costume, and volunteers with the Green Devil Closet and Pantry. She said helping the third-graders unload their haul of donations gives her hope for the future.

Tracey Keim (far left), Lydia Frederick (second from left), Charlotte Waltz (second from right) and Cassidy Deroche (far right, dressed as the SPHS Green Devil mascot) unloaded donation bags Wednesday at St. Petersburg High School.

“To see them starting to care about donations and things like this, that means they’re going to start helping their community and helping the betterment of the people,” Cassidy said. “I greatly appreciate things like this, because I know people who have come to the closet and have been really down on their luck. This helps turn them 180. They’re just completely different.”

Cassidy added that Keim does much more than run the Green Devil Closet and Pantry for the students of St. Pete High; she encourages and support students, giving them “the last change they need.”

“Miss Keim is an amazing woman, to put it simply,” Cassidy said. “She loves without asking. She cares about her students genuinely. She’s changing lives.”


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  1. Avatar

    Elisa Petit

    May 14, 2024at11:57 pm

    Awesome story and great job with this project ladies! Making a little difference in the world each day is so important and you girls managed to make a HUGE difference for a LOT of kids. Way to go and can’t wait to see how many bags you bring in next year if you run the project again 🎉🎉

  2. Avatar

    Shirley Smith-Hayes

    May 4, 2024at3:49 pm

    My first knowledge of St Pete High having a Pantry and Closet for students. Every little bit helps.

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