From one Bod to another: a free store

Robert Miller

“From One Bod to Another” is the slogan Vonnita Elliott plans to use for a new store she plans to open, simply called the Free Store.

Elliott, a 54-year-old human services major, says she came up with the idea of the Free Store while working on a group project in her personal communications class.

“It was just an assignment we had to come up with so we worked on it for the assignment and I’m the only one of the six students that decided to make it a reality,” said Elliott.

For the assignment, Elliott’s group had to the think of a way to improve Washburn.

“I went through [licensed practicing nurse] school,” said Elliott. “Back when I went through school, we had programs they don’t have today and I was a single mom so you can imagine it wasn’t easy being a single mom let alone trying to come up with clothing, books, notebooks, paper and all the stuff you need for school. I thought this would be nice to have a store that single parent students and low-income students can come to that don’t have the income to start out.”

The merchandise Elliott plans to have in her store will come from donations.

“I’m hoping to get the donations from fellow students, faculty, staff and the community around Washburn,” said Elliott.

The items she hopes to have donated include book bags, notebooks, binders, mechanical pencils, ink pens, notebook paper and clothing in the form of slacks, jeans and coats.

“They [students] can come in and get one outfit for an interview or for the International Students, who may not be used to American culture, can come in and get themselves a pair of jeans or slacks,” said Elliott.

When asked about the location of the Free Store, Elliott said she is hoping to build a location in one of the rooms upstairs [in the Union] like the Vogel room. She also said that Jerry Farley, Washburn University President, and Garrett Love, former Washburn Student, Government Association president gave her the idea to have the Free Store’s location in the Union.

“Even [President] Farley thought it was a great idea and he’s the one, and Garrett Love, that thought of having it in the Union,” said Elliott.

Her vision would be for students to get their books from the Bookstore and come on up to the Free Store or vice versa. Elliott also plans to advertise the Free Store in the Union by using a survey that she would give students, asking for their feedback regarding what they would think of having a free store.

The store would open the first week of each semester with grand opening of the Free Store in the first week of next semester. The proposed hours of business will range from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. To keep in preparation for the following semesters, Elliott plans to pack up the items not distributed and save them for the following semesters as well as getting more donations.

Elliott believes the opening of the Free Store will have a great impact on the Washburn Community.

“I think if enough word gets out that people are going to say that’s a good person, you know she came from Washburn and I think it’s going to say something not only about the community but the college itself,” said Elliott.  

When discussing who she thinks this will benefit the most, Elliott said students are the ones who really need the assistance. She is hoping they’ll be the ones to benefit.

Elliott believes she’ll benefit as well.

“I’ll benefit because helping others will make me feel good,” said Elliott.

Elliott plans to keep the store around as long as she’s a student but hopes someone will decide to pick it up. At the end of the day, Elliott wants to help others that may not be as fortunate as her or other fortunate people.

“I have a husband that supports me whole-heartedly. He helps me. He supports me emotionally, mentally and of course financially,” said Elliott. “My main goal is to help others. I want to help other students that don’t have what I have right now. This is my way of helping others.”