The Pictou County high school group won a provincial human rights award


ALMA – The law of karma states that if you do good things, good things will flow back to you.

This informal definition includes the work of the students and staff who run the Karma Closet at Northumberland Regional High School. This busy group of volunteers provides free lunches, snacks, toiletries and second-hand clothes every week at the school. Karma itself sprang into action when the group was recently recognized for their dedication and altruism by being presented with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Award in the Youth category for 2022.

Karma Closet started as a class 11 yoga class project in 2019 and was so well received, and the need seemed so great, students decided to continue with it. Over the years the torch has been passed from graduate students to younger ones and the program continues to grow and develop. It has developed close partnerships with several organizations and businesses in the area that assist with contributions.

The group has 30 to 40 members and meets on Mondays to make weekly plans and determine who will do what and when. In that case, the program runs like clockwork and the tasks are divided equally.

The Karma Closet crew provide free lunches with help from teacher Paul Heighton, (their record for one day is 76) and they also usually offer around 30 free lunches a day through the cafeteria Monday through Thursday. There are 880 students in NRHS.

Students don’t volunteer for recognition, they do it to help others, but they do claim to enjoy being noticed.

“We are truly honored to receive this award,” said Mallory Matlock. “It’s amazing to know that we received it. All the volunteers worked really hard.”

The award was presented at the Halifax Public Library on Spring Garden Road.

“It’s great to be out there with activists and people who are changing lives,” added Matlock.

The youth awards are presented first, allowing the Karma Closet volunteers who attend to sit back and relax and enjoy the rest of the ceremony.

“It was great to see everyone there,” said Elara Ehler. “They are very positive about what they are doing to make the world a better place. They also mention us in their speeches. We got screams.

Reflecting on the impact Karma Closet has on the school community, teacher/advisor Karen Berezowski says students are committed to contributing to the greater good.

“No holiday. People need to eat every day,” he said. “It’s impossible for one person to do everything.”

They also learn valuable life lessons.

“We learned that there is always something to do,” says Ehler.

Audrey Taylor took the idea one step further.

“We are kind of a small group but we still make a difference in our community,” he said.