School supply drives heat up

“This is such a wonderful opportunity for some of our neediest students. We certainly appreciate Board Member Sally Moss spearheading this supply drive for the last couple of years and the wonderful support she has generated from the many Villages communities.” — Richard Shirley, Sumter County Schools Superintendent

Sumter County School Board Vice Chairperson Sally Moss is helping public school students get the supplies they need through a drive starting Aug. 4 at Lake Miona Regional Recreation Complex.

Moss, of the Village of Virginia Trace and school board member for District 1 of the Sumter County School District, is restarting her drive in the same complexes as last year.

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic inspired Moss to start a school drive for students who might have lost help they typically receive from clubs and businesses in light of restrictions and shutdowns.

“All of our schools are Title I schools,” Moss said.

This, she clarified, means “over 70% of our students are listed as economically disadvantaged.”

Title I is a federal grant program from the U.S. Department of Education, and the largest of its kind, which is specifically aimed at helping students who are economically disadvantaged.

“All of our students attending our eight public schools qualify for free breakfast and lunch through the USDA community eligibility program,” Moss said.

Reason Behind the Drive

“Our students still need your help, there is no doubt about that,” Moss said.

Last year, the drive raised $5,000 worth of supplies and just over $2,500 in monetary contributions, which Moss attributed to the “overwhelming generosity of The Villages” and which she said astonished her.

Many of the donations were individual, she added.

“This is not just to help one school, this is to help all of our schools,” Moss said.

The supplies were logged and organized at the District Office in Bushnell with principals from the schools loading up on what their teachers needed specifically.

“This is such a wonderful opportunity for some of our neediest students,” Superintendent Richard Shirley said. “We certainly appreciate board member Sally Moss spearheading this supply drive for the last couple of years and the wonderful support she has generated from the many Village communities.”

Where and How to Contribute

The drive will be held at the picnic pavilions at Lake Miona Recreation Complex on Aug. 4, followed by Eisenhower Recreation Complex Aug. 5, and Everglades Regional Recreation Complex on Aug. 6. All events will be from 9 a.m. to noon.

There is a list of items that students needed, including pencils, pink erasers, crayons, scissors, glue sticks and index cards, and also a wish list with requested items the schools wish to have, such as headphones, earbuds and styluses.

Other items that could be donated include Band-Aids, small white boards, sanitizing wipes and even sandwich and gallon plastic bags.

According to Moss, the need to help these students is absolute as many of the students are generational residents of the county and “are the future of the county.”

The flyer for the drive can be found at supplydriveforstudents.com, which also has information on donating monetary donations and a full list of requested supplies.

Moss’s drive coalesces with the 2021 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, so donators can take full advantage of zero sales tax on numerous products relating to school.

This holiday runs from July 31-Aug. 9.

Foster Children Requiring School Supplies

Other school supply drives are available for Villagers and residents of the tri-county area to donate toward at local recreation centers.

Foster Faith, Hope & Love of Lake/Sumter Counties is about to cap off of its school supply drive that was hosted at five local recreation complexes: SeaBreeze, Laurel Manor, Colony Cottage, Rohan and Fenney.

This drive runs from June 30-July 29.

The funds and supplies mainly go toward foster children in Lake and Sumter counties.

Brandy Buckner, president at the organization, which was formerly known as Lake and Sumter Families, spoke on the need and want to reach these students.

“Children obviously come into foster care year round and come into care with nothing,” Buckner said. “Thus, foster families have to start from scratch with backpacks and supplies. We do the best we can to assist those families based on tangible and financial donations.”

Unfortunately, supplies so far received have been lower than expected, according to Buckner.

“While we are extremely grateful for the donations it is vastly short of what we need to serve the current school-aged foster children in Lake and Sumter counties,” Buckner said. “In previous years, we have been able to serve all of the families and the children in care in Lake and Sumter counties.”

This drive will be the 10th annual drive from the organization.

Other Local Drives

The Rotary Club of The Villages Evenings club is hosting its own drive from Aug. 6-Aug. 30 with drop-off sites at six recreation centers in The Villages: La Hacienda, Chula Vista, Paradise, El Santiago, Savannah and Mulberry Grove.

The Red for Ed Community School Supply Drive put on by the Education Foundation of Lake County as a joint effort with numerous local businesses and clubs to support teachers and students in Lake County public schools.

For more information and drop box locations, visit edfoundationlake.com

Staff Writer Garrett Shiflet can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5367, or garrett.shiflet@thevillagesmedia.com.