(KMOV.com) -- An elementary school in Warren County is using a new program aimed at combating poverty by helping students earn basic necessities for their families.
Rebecca Boone Elementary has a poverty rate at about 70 percent.
The program gives students two Boone Bucks a day if they come to school and behave. The Boone Bucks can then be used at the trading post where students can get anything from clothes to toiletries and food.
“Well, over here is the shoes and stuff,” said 5th grader Sammy Long, “Some parents can’t afford like shoes and stuff because they’re too expensive.”
The district covers most of Warren County and in rural communities where poverty is still a growing problem.
“We’re about 50 miles away from the heart of St. Louis,” said Principal Jill Showe, “So it’s difficult for our families to have jobs that pay enough to get them above the poverty line.”
Showe said the students learn the difference between needs and wants, the wants are the toys and books and they are priced higher.
“The reason I get things I need first,” said 5th grader Tyler Inzer, “is they’re more important than the things that I want.”
Inzer and his brother said they are combining their Boone Bucks to buy a computer at the trading post.
“They’ll be future consumers,” said Tyler’s father, Donnie, “so this will teach them how our economy works.”
The idea for the trading post comes from a school in Springfield, Missouri.
“One story that brought a tear to our eye,” Schowe said, “Little guy checked out with brand new toothbrush. He told the volunteer, ‘Now I don’t have to share a toothbrush with my brother.’”
Items for the trading post are donated. The rotary club gave the school $1000 start-up money and word of mouth has led to more donations.