Canton High launches ‘Sticker Shock’ campaign

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L-R: Devon Collins, Officer Ted Lehan, Jimmy Jenkins, Jackson Maffeo, Paula Wedge, owner of Paula’s Package Store, and Thomas Monagle

L-R: Devon Collins, Officer Ted Lehan, Jimmy Jenkins, Jackson Maffeo, Paula Wedge, owner of Paula’s Package Store, and Thomas Monagle (Heather Sullivan photo)

In an effort to make adults, especially younger adults, aware of the potential dangers of purchasing alcoholic beverages for underage drinkers, Heather Sullivan and students at Canton High School took part in the first annual Sticker Shock campaign. Sullivan and the students, along with Canton Police Officer Ted Lehan, visited Paula’s Package Store and Springdale Variety last week to deliver stickers and posters that carried messages about underage drinking.

Sullivan is an administrative assistant, senior class advisor, Link Leaders coordinator, and advisor of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) at CHS. She also serves on the Canton Alliance Against Substance Abuse (CAASA). Canton Fire Chief Charlie Doody and Canton Police Chief Ken Berkowitz created the alliance as a coalition of representatives from the Board of Selectmen, Blue Hills Regional Technical School, and several town departments, including Parks and Recreation, Police, Fire, Schools, and Public Health. CPS Nurse Leader Janet Donnelly and Assistant Recreation Director Nick Pirelli chair the group, which meets monthly.

At a recent meeting, Lyn Franco described the Sticker Shock campaign to CAASA members. Franco represents Canton, Stoughton, Holbrook and Walpole as a coalition cluster coordinator.

“She did it in Weymouth,” Sullivan said of another Sticker Shock campaign. “She came to us and said this is a great project. She had everything ready for us. We only changed a couple of words.”

Sullivan added that one of the benefits of Franco’s work is that CAASA members learn of new ideas and find out what surrounding towns are doing to combat substance abuse.

Sullivan said that there are about 15 students in SADD, some of whom acknowledged that they have engaged in underage drinking. Sticker Shock is designed to discourage adults from providing alcohol to minors during the holidays, when alcohol sales are high. The holidays are also a time when adult college students return home for vacation; one of the aims of Sticker Shock is to discourage young adults in that group from buying alcohol for younger siblings or friends.

The students who participated in Sticker Shock went to the two local businesses after school in the afternoon of December 22.

“They set up an area for us with brown bags,” Sullivan said. “I went into the coolers and put the stickers on the beer.”

The students were not allowed to touch the alcohol and instead placed stickers on about 400 bags. The message on the bags read: “By refusing to buy, deliver or provide alcohol for someone under 21, you are contributing to a safe and responsible community.” The words appeared over the CAASA logo, a symbol of hands joined together and the words Canton Alliance Against Substance Abuse.

The stores’ employees use the stickered bags for purchases of alcohol and non-alcoholic items. “People who go in the stores buy snacks,” Sullivan said. “Even if they didn’t buy alcohol, they could still see it. Anyone can get the message. The kids really did enjoy it.”

Sullivan would like to expand Sticker Shock next year and go into more stores, perhaps pizza places and have students get the message on pizza boxes. The students also placed the posters with the same message on the checkout counters, windows and doors of the businesses.

Sullivan felt that the students’ efforts were successful and will have an impact on the Canton community. Paula Wedge, the owner of Paula’s Package Store, was in her store when the Sticker Shock group arrived.

“She thought it was a good idea,” Sullivan said. “We hung up signs. A couple of customers saw them and said, ‘Wow. What a great idea.’ It brings everyone together. The kids enjoyed it.”

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