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Nonprofit launches school supply drive for Maria refugees

Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Christian
Staff Writer
More than 840 students displaced by Hurricane Maria have been enrolled in Osceola public schools since the disaster struck in September.
Now that airports have re-opened in Puerto Rico, that number is expected
to grow.
The Educational Foundation Osceola County, a nonprofit partnership between public schools and community figures, is trying to make that transition a little smoother by providing the young refugees with backpacks full of all school supplies.
“It makes it just one less thing the students and their parents have to worry about,” said Kerry Avery, executive director of the Foundation. “It’s a small gesture that will mean a lot to these kids, and help give them a sense of normalcy after such a life-altering experience.”
The organization launched its school supply drive two weeks ago, and has already received two major corporate donations. Walt Disney World donated 1,000 backpacks to the effort and Target contributed $3,000 in gift cards for the Foundation to purchase supplies with.
The Foundation is collecting supplies for students in grades K-12, especially pencils, crayons, colored pencils, loose leaf paper, glue sticks, markers and pens.
Residents who prefer to give a monetary donation instead of dropping off supplies can do so by visiting the Foundation’s website at www.foundationosceola.org.
The nonprofit is also seeking individuals willing to donate their time. Avery said the group is going to need volunteers to help sort donations and assemble the backpacks before they are distributed to the displaced students.
“We are trying to give people a couple options, just in case they don’t have the time to drop off a set of supplies, but still want to help out,” the executive director said.
The school supply donation drive is going on now through Dec. 15, and donations can be dropped off at their location at 2310 New Beginnings Road No. 118 in Kissimmee.
For more information, contact Avery at 407-870-4855.