Re-organized nonprofit hosting St. Cloud school supply drive

By Rachel Christian

Staff Writer

A St. Cloud nonprofit is hosting a school supply drive aimed at helping local kids get the tools they need to succeed.

The effort, spearheaded by St. Cloud Citizens Foundation, runs through Aug. 6. It’s set to wrap up at the city-sponsored Back 2 School Jam hosted at Hopkins Park.

Other school supply drives will take place in upcoming weeks. But according to Erin Ochs, Citizens Foundation board member and special events coordinator for the city, her group wanted a program focused on helping kids right in St. Cloud.

“The Osceola County Education Foundation does a wonderful job gathering the tools and resources students need to be successful,” Ochs said. “We just wanted something else local that would give back directly to the kids right here in our city.”

The drive is also somewhat of a comeback for the Citizens Foundation as an organization. The nonprofit group, headed by St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell, experienced a lack of activity for years, Ochs said. The group once held an active role in the area by hosting fundraisers for the community pantry and launching the local We Dare to Care campaign that is now overseen by the police department.

A change in leadership led to “a bit of a hiatus,” but Ochs said the school supply drive is one way the group is hoping to reconnect with residents.

“This is kind of our way of saying, ‘Hey, we’re still here, and we’re here to help,’” she said.

The Citizens Foundation also plans to get the word out at an upcoming St. Cloud car show July 25. Volunteers with the foundation will be handing out free hot dogs, cotton candy and water from 6 to 9 p.m. and chatting with residents about getting involved.

Ochs said the goal is to collect enough school supplies to help 25 to 30 at-risk and underprivileged students in St. Cloud. School supplies for kids of all ages are welcome, though Ochs said efforts are focusing on students in elementary and middle school.

The drive kicked off earlier this month, and Ochs said the foundation is also exploring donations from community partners and businesses before efforts wrap up in August.

School supply donations can be dropped off at St. Cloud City Hall, St. Cloud Community Center, St. Cloud Civic Center and the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce.

For more information or to learn how to get involved, contact Ochs at 407-957-7226 or stccfinfo@