Spence doubles down on school fundraising goal

The target for a back-to-school uniforms fundraiser has almost quadrupled because of the number of families left in dire straits by the economic havoc caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A back-to-school uniform fundraiser has reached its $75,000 target — but now the organisers have set a new goal of $150,000 because of the expected level of demand.

Gina Spence, the founder of charity Gina Spence Productions, said that their Each One Reach One campaign would need more money to provide for the 800 children who had signed up by lunchtime yesterday and the organisers were still counting.

Ms Spence predicted that the final figure could hit 1,000.

She said: “The response has been remarkable when you think about how we launched the campaign a few weeks ago and we surpassed our goal.

“But in that same two-week period, we had the greatest amount of children register in the eight years that we’ve run this campaign.” The Each One Reach One campaign raises cash for school equipment and uniforms for families who would struggle to kit their children out for the school year.

Ms Spence said at the August 10 launch of the campaign that they were prepared to assist 500 children, but that they could see as many as 700 apply.

She said yesterday that the original $75,000 target was expected to be enough for 500 children.

Ms Spence said: “We estimate that between 900 and 1,000 children, just based on what was coming through this morning and during lunchtime.

“We’ve also had a lot of people who just didn’t even have internet to register, so a few people went to the library and Washington Mall for internet just so that they could get the application filled out.”

She added: “If we were looking at least 1,000 children, then we would have to raise another $75,000 so that every single one of those children would at least get a full outfit for the first day of school.”

Ms Spence said at the launch that the campaign would this year focus on gift cards that families could use to buy “First Day Starter Kits” at Gibbons Company in Hamilton.

The charity’s school uniform recycling programme, which donated used school uniforms to children signed up to the campaign, could not be held this year because of health concerns over the coronavirus and Government regulations.

Each starter kit will have school clothes, a backpack and other essentials for children of all ages.

Daily kits will contain one uniform and will have a price range between $115 and $125.

Weekly starter kits will have three uniforms and cost $200.

Mychel Jones, the administrator for Gina Spence Productions, said the deadline for donations was August 28 and the gift cards would be distributed the next day.

She added that the charity had seen so many families sign up because the Covid-19 pandemic had caused huge financial stress.

Ms Jones said: “We’re looking at two groups — the lower-income families that struggle financially annually and the demographic of people who have never been in this position financially before.

“So we have our normal population that we cater to, in addition to the new population that has never experienced this.”

She added: “It speaks to the reality of our community and parents’ financial positions.”

Ms Jones said she was confident the charity could hit its new target.

She added the fundraiser had received several corporate donations.

Ms Jones said that “Bermuda has come together and helped us to reach our initial goal” and that she was hopeful that once people heard of the “astronomical” demand, they would rally round again.

Donations can be made online at www.ginaspenceproductions.com by the August 28 deadline.

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