Fundraising effort helps 900 students with back-to-school supplies

Hundreds of children will return to school next month knowing that they are well equipped for the academic year ahead, thanks to the fundraising efforts of an island organisation.

The Each One Reach One campaign, run by Gina Spence Productions, has raised more than $80,000 to help families in need with essential school supplies ahead of the school year.

Gina Spence, founder of the social services group, said: “We are celebrating ten years, and in that ten-year time-frame we have helped 10,000 families and more.

“That’s because Bermuda has been so gracious.”

The charity has received $84,338, and Ms Spence added: “We’ve had everything from $2 donations from individuals to $1,000 donations from corporations. It doesn’t matter — what matters is that every dollar counts, and every dollar can make a difference to a child’s life.”

The charity teamed up with the Gibbons Company to provide more than 900 children with school supplies such as backpacks, gently used clothing and gift cards at an event on Saturday at CedarBridge Academy.

Patrina O’Connor-Paynter, the managing director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda, accepted $500 of Gibbons vouchers on behalf of the charity and thanked those involved in the campaign.

She said: “As everyone knows, we’re just coming out of the pandemic and if we thought the need was great before, I don’t think everybody realises what the need is right now.”

Ms O’Connor-Paynter added: “Stuff like this, when the community comes together, it’s beautiful, but it’s absolutely needed.

“I know some people don’t realise it because they don’t face this but, trust us, we’re on the front lines and we get to see it every day whether it’s in school or whether it’s with charitable organisations.”

Calvin Burgess, who accepted vouchers for Family Forum, added: “That’s what we need in the country today — families backing families, community backing communities, businesses backing communities and families.”

He added that the organisation was “truly thankful” for the support.

Kali Douglas, the acting principal of Dellwood Middle School, said: “This is a community effort. It’s a huge effort and it impacts our families.”

Tony Thompson, the chief executive officer of Gibbons Company, thanked Ms Spence and her team.

He added: “This is the ten-year anniversary that we’ve partnered with Gina Spence Productions. It’s been an amazing partnership, really the highlight of Gibbons’ event calendar.”

Ms Spence added: “We talk about it takes a village. This is what our village looks like.”

She said: “There are so many people that work behind the scenes — all of the volunteers that are here today, all of the people who’ve come to be blessed and receive these cards.”

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