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The Villages
Saturday, April 13, 2024

Villagers launch campaign to gather school supplies for needy students at Wildwood Elementary School

In a matter of weeks, most children will start a new school year carrying just-purchased backpacks loaded with supplies such as notebooks, binders and colored pencils, along with new lunchboxes filled with nutritious meals.

Most – but not all children.

Not the 90 percent of the students at Wildwood Elementary School. They come from families living below federal poverty guidelines.

“Some of their parents are incarcerated. Others are non-existent and no longer are a part of the family dynamics,” said Faye Scher, a resident of the Village of Gilchrist, who has become a staunch advocate and fundraiser for the Wildwood students. “Many parents work three jobs in order to put food on the table.”

Villager Faye Scher and Wildwood Elementary School Principal John Temple review the types and amounts of supplies needed for students this year.

Scher said many of the students will enter their classrooms without the resources to buy even the most basic of supplies. And many also will receive government-sponsored meals at school, she said.

“That’s why we began this year’s campaign to help these deserving kids and why we are encouraging Villagers to purchase some supplies or contribute cash and we will get them,” Scher said.

The students will need crayons; blue, black and red pens; No. 2 pencils; baby wipes; dry erase markers; eight-tab dividers; colored pencils; wide-spiral, single-subject binders; wide-rule, not college-lined, paper; three-hole (non-spiral) composition books; highlighters; gallon- and quart-size Ziploc bags and 1½-inch binders.

“The best deals are at Wal-Mart after July 4, when crayons and markers are on sale,” Scher said. “While there are amazing ‘loss leaders’ at Office Depot and Staples, they often run out the day they advertise.”

Other items in demand, especially during flu season, are large containers of hand sanitizers and boxes of tissues. The school nurse also needs boys’ and girls’ underwear, in all sizes, to be ready for various emergencies.

Scher’s group also welcomes cash and check donations that will be used to place bulk orders and purchase the remaining items.

Scher said donors also have another option. They can order online and have the items shipped to her at 3051 Bureau Path, The Villages 32163. Checks should be mailed there as well.

Supplies can be dropped off before Aug. 3 at the following locations throughout The Villages:
• 1115 Paradise Drive (Country Club Hills)
• 1426 Juarez Place (Rio Ponderosa)
• 3051 Bureau Path (Gilchrist)
• 3106 Merritt Lane (Fenney).

“The Villagers’ assistance has been essential,’” said John Temple, principal at Wildwood Elementary School. “The vast majority of our 840 kids are eligible for free or reduced-program assistance. By providing supplies, their families can put their limited resources somewhere else.”

Scher said the campaign has two goals.

“We don’t expect teachers to spend their own hard-earned salaries to buy supplies not provided by their schools,” she said. “Also, we want their financially needy students to have the same advantages that other students take for granted.”

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