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Annual classroom supply drive hits home stretch

July 8, 2014
By CHUCK?BALLARO ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It's hard to believe that the start of another school year is only about a month away, and the push for donated school supplies is on.

The annual classroom supply drive put on by the Education Resource Center to provide students in need the tools they need to succeed in school has entered its final week, and many people and businesses are doing their share to make sure they have plenty of pencils and paper.

The drive, which began on June 15, ends on July 15, and with dozens of drop-off points, such as banks, there's a sure to be a place for people to stop by and make a donation, however small.

Among those lending a hand is County Commissioner Brian Hamman, who represents North Fort Myers and Cape Coral, who has set up a donation box at his office at the old county courthouse.

Hamman said the event is near and dear to his heart, having started doing it while still working at CenturyLink.

"We have to give them the tools to help them get the best education they can," Hamman said. "We sponsored it at CenturyLink every year and so when I was offered to do it this year, I wanted to continue it."

Among the supplies sought are paper, envelopes, index cards, writing implements, folders, notebooks, tissue, wallpaper books, file cabinets, craft supplies, book cases, shelves and chairs, clocks, calculators, zip-top bags, or anything office of craft-type items you're looking to donate.

The Education Resource Center is kind of like a free store that teachers can use year round, according to June Halladay of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, which runs the center.

Marshall T. Bower, president and CEO of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, said the importance of such a drive cannot be understated.

"With 70 percent of our 86,000 kids qualifying for free or reduced lunch, the need is huge because in order to succeed, the kids have to be prepared," Bower said. "The need is endless and that's why the resource center is open all year."

Bower said he also gets calls from teachers and school nurses for needs they have that the center will put in a package for them so they can be distributed.

Of course, Hamman and Bower both said that donations are welcome at any time.

"We do a big push at that time of year for the beginning of the year, but we need things all year," Bower said. "You'd be surprised what we can put to use. Teachers are inventive, and they'll find a way to put things to use."



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