Ten years ago the prevention specialist at Vernon Youth Services, Kim McTighe, approached the managers of liquor stores in their community that had failed compliance checks with an offer to collaborate. She asked them to partner with the coalition by allowing students at Rockville High School to decorate the brown bags they pack customers purchases in with drunk/drugged driving prevention messages. A decade later there are still four stores that participate every year, providing upwards of 300 bags for students to decorate. The Rockville High School Peer Advocates are so dedicated to this effort that they spend a few afternoons at school decorating bags, and some even take bags home to complete!
For the past two years, the Vernon ROCKS Coalition has partnered with this program and adds branded stickers to the bags. We asked Kaitlin Carafa, the Project Director of the Vernon ROCKS Coalition, to tell us more about what makes the holiday prevention liquor store bags project so successful. She said, “the students really like to make the bags creative and unique. And as a bonus, it's also a little stress relief activity for them! The stores look forward to this each year and the town is very supportive of the initiative.”
The team hopes to expand the program to more package stores in Vernon in the future. If you would like to ask Kaitlin more about this project and how you can replicate it in your community, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow the Vernon ROCKS Coalition on Facebook and see their post about the project here.