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Donations to help kids gear up for school
Groups are making progress with the school year closing in, but more help is needed.
By MOLLY MOORHEAD, Times Staff Writer
Published August 7, 2007
Generosity is pouring into local groups collecting back-to-school supplies for needy kids.
One group got an out-of-the-blue $5,000 donation this weekend. Another got a $1,000 windfall on Monday.
But with the first day of school less than two weeks off, the need is still unmet.
Bob Loring, who runs East Pasco's Toys for Tots drive, has been collecting school supplies for weeks. He thought the arrival of five money orders for $2,500 would put fundraising efforts over the top.
Then he discovered the money orders were fraudulent.
But from that negative came a positive: an anonymous donor handed him a $5,000 check a good check outside a supermarket this weekend.
"That certainly put us over the top," Loring said Monday. "We'll absolutely be able to have a backpack for every kid."
His group will outfit 500 to 600 kids, most of whom are served at Christmas by Toys for Tots, during a distribution this weekend.
"We want every child to start with a backpack. We think that's sort of a prestige thing to start school," he said.
Sunrise of Pasco, a domestic violence shelter for women and children, got good news Monday when an anonymous donor pledged $1,000 toward school supplies. Sunrise is helping about 30 kids - six who are staying in a shelter, the rest through outreach programs.
"With this we can even buy kids new shoes," said Trish Kley, Sunrise's development director.
Sunrise's clients, Kley said, are unique because they often are starting with nothing.
"When they come into (the) shelter, many times they'll come in without anything. Those (supplies) are more likely left behind at the home," she said. "When they're going through our outreach programs, they don't have the finances because they're starting over."
The group tries to keep supplies on hand throughout the school year and is still accepting donations.
Elsewhere, donations are in short supply.
At Farmworkers Self-Help in Tommytown, Margarita Romo said she has about 65 backpacks, but 80 kids to help.
And that's just the ones who attend her church. Every year, more than that show up with a need.
"We're going to try to serve all of them," she said. "I don't know how far we'll get."
Farmworkers Self-Help serves primarily migrant families. Romo said it's harder than ever to collect for that population.
"Right now with the sentiment as it is, it's sad because these parents can't get things from other places a lot of times," she said. "It affects the children."
She gives this message to every family: no double-dipping.
"What we tell them is if we take care of you, don't go anywhere else. We want it to be available for other kids."
Lottie Silas runs the Boys & Girls Club in Lacoochee. With no formal school supply drive in the works, she is relying on individual donations. Two local businesses have stepped up, but with 96 kids to help she is still searching.
The wish list is the usual: book bags, folders, pens, glue, crayons, pencils, scissors and paper.
Project of Pasco (affiliated with Toys for Tots): Families must register to get supplies, but there's still time. Call Bob Loring at (352) 588-4230. Distribution is Saturday. Donations are being collected at supermarkets throughout Zephyrhills, Wesley Chapel and Land O'Lakes
Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc.: The group keeps supplies on hand all year for clients in their shelter and outreach programs. To donate, call (352) 521-3358.
Boys & Girls Club of Lacoochee: Director Lottie Silas says the club needs backpacks and supplies for kids ages 5 through 18. Donations can be dropped off at the club at 38749 Patti Lane, Lacoochee, or Silas will pick them up. Call (352) 583-2994.
Farmworkers Self-Help: The group is serving at least 80 kids in the Tommytown area. They have a particular need for musical instruments, in addition to other school supplies. Donations can be sent to the office at 37240 Calle de Milagros, or call (352) 567-1432.