Marla’s Mall is a unique second-hand store that provides work experience, credit recovery, and extended school year opportunities for our 5-J high school students, while also providing a wide variety of clothing, household, and hygiene items to the public, free of charge. It is named in honor of a former BHS teacher whom we lost to cancer in 2007. Marla Cavallo was an exceptional individual who knew not only how to teach, but how to set a good standard for others to follow; this facility endeavors to follow her example by helping to meet the needs of our students and the people in our community.
Originally, in order to meet the needs of some of the kids at BHS, a few odds and ends of clothing had been kept in the BHS Learning Center, however officially, Marla’s Mall began in 2009 when Kim Virtue and Tammy Pearce brainstormed and realized the collection could help a lot more people, so the clothing was moved to Marla’s old classroom and named for her. When this became too small the entire store was moved to North Baker Elementary where it has continued to grow and include much more than clothing. Everything is free of charge to anyone, regardless of income; however, we do emphasize that items should not be taken for resale. DHS, the Rachel Center, May Day, and other organizations are able to use what we have to offer as well, which includes supplying hygiene items, interview appropriate clothing, and a “stash” of items reserved for unfortunate families who have suffered a fire or other emergency. Items such as sleeping bags and backpacks are set aside for our local homeless population. We are able to do this because Baker’s School District 5-J provides the building, electricity, staffing, etc. to provide for the class, and the donations are supplied by the community. Cash donations from the public and a Community 101 grant are used to buy hygiene supplies or other needed items.
Bulldog Bubbles is a school-based laundry business that works alongside Marla’s Mall and provides the same opportunities for our 5-J high school students. A commercial washer and dryer were purchased with a grant, and while the students and staff are not professionals, they do the district’s laundry, several local businesses, and some from the general public, all for a small charge. Monies collected are used to purchase supplies, fund projects, and allow the students to learn money management.