BENNINGTON — At four liquor stores, some 40 cases of alcoholic beverages now have a bright yellow and black warning sticker on them.
The Sticker Shock Campaign is a collaborative effort amongst several community organizations to stop those selling alcohol to minors. The movement started on Wednesday when about six youth from Teens 4 Change and the Center for Restorative Justice's (CRJ) Student Hope and Opportunities Program (SHOP) placed stickers on cases.
Bennington Beverage Outlet, Mincer's Mini Mart, Willy's Variety Store and Martin's Mini Mart are participating in the campaign.
"It really heightens awareness," Bennington Beverage Outlet owner Denis Noel said at a kickoff event at the business on Wednesday. "We've done it for a few years now."
On the same day, the Alliance for Community Transformation (ACT) launched the Positive Ticketing Program in collaboration with the Bennington Police Department. Throughout the campaign, youth can be "caught" doing a good deed and issued a ticket.
Attending Wednesday's kick-off event was state Rep. Kiah Morris, D-Bennington, CRJ case manager Sean Morin, United Counseling Service Youth Outreach worker Katrina Hollis, several other ACT members and Bennington police officers.
Mount Anthony Union High School (MAUHS) graduate and Teens 4 Change member Amber Worley advocated for the Sticker Shock campaign after her 16-year-old friend died from drinking and driving.
"Too many young kids are drinking and driving," she said. "I hope adults follow through with this and the sticker serves as a reminder."
The yellow and black sticker has a warning signal on it and says "Save Your Rear, Don't Buy Minors Beer."
Morris said the campaign's success will be measured by surveys in the fall, and right now ACT is "feeling it out."
"We've seen it start in other communities and it's a great way to bring together law enforcement and youth," she said. "It's been successful in the past. This is a perfect opportunity to bring it back during prom and graduation season. It's an important message to get out and get familiar with the penalties [of serving minors alcohol]."
Adults who serve minors can be fined between $500 to $2,000, serve up to two years in jail, or both, as decided by the judge, according to Vermont law.
"When young kids have their license and drive and they're under the influence, they get in accidents," MAUHS sophomore Dylan Mason said. "Adults need to be responsible. It might be effective if adults read the stickers."
ACT is a community-based collective of volunteers working on projects to improve the health of Bennington's community.
The most recent Sticker Shock event occurred last September when UCS' Youth Community Action Team (YCAT) placed stickers with the slogan "lock it up" on the cap of pill bottles at The Pharmacy at 205 North St. The goal was to raise awareness around abuse of drugs like opiate painkillers and to encourage residents to lock up their prescriptions.
The following businesses and organizations either donated to or are involved with the campaigns:
Bennington Blueprint for Health
Turning Point Recovery Center of Bennington
United Counseling Services of Bennington
Bennington County Regional Commission
Vermont State Police
Bennington County Head Start
WBTN AM Radio
Bennington County Sheriff's Department
Bennington Police Department
Center for Restorative Justice
Fraternal Order of Masons
MAU Interact Club
Second Chance Animal Shelter
Southern Vermont College
Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union
Mount Anthony Union High School
Mount Anthony Union Middle School
Southwestern Vermont Health Care
State of Vermont
Sunrise Family Resource Center
Teens 4 Change
Town of Bennington
— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at 802-447-7567, ext. 118.