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The Four

North Central Academy’s school store ‘Grandmas Place’ is making an impact on students’ lives

When Crystal Williams retired from health care, she knew she wasn’t done giving back to her community. After her children went through North Central Academy in Mancelona, and now having six grandchildren attending, her wheels began turning.

“My friends started the iron vault mantle and I went and seen it. And so I was like, we need that at North Central. I come to the principal, Miss Kettlewell, and I said, we need something like this. She said, I don’t have the staff for it. And I told her, well, I’m retired. I can do it. So she gave me this classroom and it was like a storage room, and I cleaned it out. And overnight I just kind of set up what I had because I had collected things already to hand out to people that are in need. So I brought in what I had and asked for donations and kind of opened it overnight. And it has grown extensively,” said Crystal Williams.

It’s a store where students can come throughout the week to gather items they may be a needing at home. From shampoo to toothbrushes, blankets, clothing, shoes and even food. It is all available to students free of charge.


“I didn’t have any shoes and my parents didn’t really have the money to buy shoes. I actually got my shoes from here. Especially I needed tennis shoes because mine were all ripped up and that just helped a lot,” said student, Sophie Timmer.

And they call it, ‘Grandma’s Place.”

“When you go to grandma’s house, usually grandma has everything you need. If you need food and you don’t have food, you go to grandma’s house. If you need, laundry soap or toilet paper, you go to grandma’s house. She has everything. She cooks meals. And grandma’s house is comforting. So we wanted it to be comfortable, and inviting for the children and their families,” Williams said.

It’s become a safe place for students where they feel supported. No matter what their need is, they know they can rely on ‘Grandma.’


“I have a lot of ankle issues, so I have very specific shoes I need, and I actually come and get mine from here because we don’t have enough money to get them. A lot of people love it for that reason too,” said another student, Naveah Whittredge.

“I have always been a person to give. If I see things at the store on clearance, I will buy it. And I know that there’s somebody in need somewhere. and so having a place that I can actually, my garage got a little full. So having a place that I can actually do this and reach out and reach so many people, so many families, it just seemed like a great idea. Having this resource available to the students and their families wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community,” Williams said.

Which is why ‘Grandma’s Place’ is holding a fundraiser this weekend to be able to continue this support.

“We have an adult prom. It’s dancing through the decades. The Yak or Two Ranch in Mancelona donated their wedding venue for us. And so we’re going to have it there. And Jake Slater has donated his time. He’s an Elvis tribute artist, and he’s going to be out to do a show. We have a DJ, so, all the funds that we raised there will go to ‘Grandma’s Place’ to keep our shelves stocked,” said Williams.


Tickets will be available at the door, $15 for a single ticket and $25 for a couple with other fundraising opportunities available throughout the evening.

Learn more about the fundraiser happening this weekend, here.

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