Grocery store program benefits homeless students in Roanoke City Schools

ROANOKE, Va. – It's checkout time for customers at the Roanoke Co+op. And while they're paying, they could be making a difference as part of the Change! Program. 

"We always choose a local charity, a group that you can really connect to here in Roanoke. I think that's important, that you can see where those dollars are spent," said John Bryant, marketing manager for the co+op.

As part of the Change! program, customers at the co+op are given a chance to round up to the nearest dollar. This month, the lucky recipient is Roanoke City Schools Star Council, a group helping homeless students.

"Homelessness can happen to anybody at any time. Just being able to support them and bring some attention to it and put a little bit of funds to it that would help students was an important cause for us to take on," said Bryant. 

Last school year, 568 students in Roanoke City were identified as homeless. While that number has been shrinking over the last few years, the school division said there is plenty to do and plenty of people in need. 

"The money that comes from the co+op will be used for any of the needs that our homeless students have so that could vary from school supplies to clothing items," said Taisha Steele, director of school counseling. 

The division and co+op hope the community will see the need and meet it. The monthly record to beat is close to $4,000. 

The Change! program at the co+op started in 2013. Since then, it has raised more than $115,000 for local organizations. 

In the coming months, the co+op will help the Roanoke Ballet Theatre and Taubman Museum of Art.

To learn more about Change!, click here

To learn more about helping the homeless students in Roanoke City, click here.