Spence appeals for Back to School donations

A community activist appealed for public help yesterday to raise $20,000 to help fund a drive to provide children in need with essentials for the start of the new school year.

Gina Spence said her production company will hold its annual Back to School event this month, but that demand for help is high.

Ms Spence said: “We have had so many people register already. We launched everything on Monday and within two days we had more than 100 children registered, which tells us that there are going to be a lot of people needing support.

“We really need to increase donors and sponsors this year as we have more children in need and not enough clothes and funds to meet the demand. Each year the numbers have increased.

“And due to this increase, we are also needing more volunteers to meet the demand to assist with sorting and organising the more than 1,000 pieces of school clothes that we receive annually.”

She added: “We work with other charities like the Coalition for the Protection of Children, Family Centre, Pride Bermuda and Big Brothers Big Sisters. They always let us know when they have children in need.”

“We have become the one-stop shop for the majority of families in need, and we are looking for more volunteers because we need them this year.”

Ms Spence said the annual school drive was launched to help families provide their children with uniforms for the start of the school year.

She said: “It adds up to about $250 for just basic uniform needs.

If you look at outfitting the child fully with gym clothes, school bags and other things, you are probably looking at closer to $600.

“We also have seen an increase in need from parents with children in preschool. It’s pretty interesting to see parents needing clothing for such young children, but if you have three children it adds up.”

Ms Spence said the public could donate “gently used” uniforms for discounts on back to school items at the store through a partnership with the Gibbons Company store in Hamilton.

But she added that, even with that support, more help was needed.

She said: “Our goal this year is to raise $20,000 because while we do get the donations of gently used clothing, we still have to make up the difference.

“If someone needs a blazer, shorts and a shirt, we may have the shirt in his size, but not the blazer. With the raised funds, we can give them a gift certificate to get a blazer. Our goal is to outfit the entire child.”

Ms Spence said last year the charity had 300 children nominated for assistance, but even more came on the day of the event.

She said: “We probably reached 400 schoolchildren.

“But it’s not just this time of year. We also provide school stuff year-round.

“Right now they need the summer uniforms, but soon it’s going to be winter.

“We service children all year round with whatever we have.”

This year’s event will be held on August 31 at the Berkeley Institute and online registration can be completed at ginaspenceproductions.com.

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