Back-to-school campaign launch

Community activist Gina Spence will launch her annual back-to-school campaign next week to provide needy families with uniforms and education supplies.

Gina Spence Productions has again teamed up with Gibbons Company to urge residents to donate “gently used” uniforms to help children across the island at the start of the new school year.

The Each One Reach One initiative will see scores of families provided with school uniforms, bags, supplies and also free haircuts.

“We have been receiving calls from families since last month inquiring about how they can register their children to get help and assistance,” Ms Spence said.

“This is unprecedented as we usually start to get calls mid-August. Many of the children we aim to help have lost parents to road fatalities, murders and illness like cancer.”

Ms Spence has been organising the back-to-school campaign for more than 15 years. Last year the campaign received more than 1,000 school items and financial donations that were passed on to families.

One of last year’s recipient’s, Nekesha Holdipp, said the initiative had helped her family “incredibly”.

“No one prepares for such a loss suffered as this and children are left with depleted resources,” she said.

“This initiative has not only given us much appreciated material support, as children grow so fast, but also let us know that the children, the real victims, are not forgotten, and this has provided a comfort.”

Gina Spence Productions volunteers will distribute the uniforms to nominated families on September 2 in the Washington Mall when school supplies and also free haircuts will be provided.

Ms Spence added: “My reason for doing it is to provide parents with a support system to assist with the cost of purchasing school uniforms.

“I was a single parent raising three children and it was very difficult having to buy school uniforms every year. In Bermuda it’s mandatory to wear a uniform; if you don’t have the money your child cannot go to school.

“We understand the importance of education and want to do our part to ensure that every child is prepared feeling good and ready for the first day at school.

“We also know when children do not have the essentials they are bullied, teased and feel sad and unvalued. It’s the little things that mean the most. We can not do it alone, every donations helps and makes a difference in a child’s life. One hundred per cent of the funds received go towards the campaign. No donation is too big or too small.”

To nominate children to receive school uniform or make a financial donation go to The uniform drop off at Gibbons Company and registration deadline will be August 31.
mention of politician Jefferson Sousa’s recent loss of his father.

On a personal note, Dunkley, a father of two, added: “I remember the values that my father taught me — hard work, perseverance, sacrifice and have fun along the way. To the fathers out there, keep up the great work.”

Minister of Social Development and Sport Nandi Outerbridge paid tribute to the mentoring programme Mirrors saying: “Studies show that children who have involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident, explore their surroundings and have better social connections. Mirrors is one of the programmes that falls under my ministerial remit and I have seen first-hand how many young children, especially young males, excel when there is a strong role model in their life.”

The King’s Kids Dancers out of Vernon Temple AME Church performed an inspirational dance before Opposition leader David Burt took to the podium.

“It is without question a blessing to be a father — children are a gift of God,” he said. “The burdens of parenting and the joys of parenting is without question the most fulfilling thing that I have done in my life.

“It is very important for us to remember that there are many inside of our communities who for whatever reason — whether it be an untimely passing or through violence — do not have fathers or a father’s influence. It is important for us to remember those children on Father’s Day and to make sure that for those of us who know young ones who do not have a father figure in their life do whatever we can to make sure we can support them and their family.”

Shadow Minister for Social Development and Sport Michael Weeks added: “As a father, I know first-hand the importance of proactive fatherhood, the importance of having a committed hand in raising those who God has entrusted in us.

“If we want our children to show up, then we must first show up. If we want our children to use good judgment and have good manners then we as fathers must show good judgment and good manners.”

Gina Spence Productions volunteer and team member Father Franklin W. Francis encouraged all fathers to take an active role in their children’s lives and called on mothers to allow them to be a part of their children’s lives.

His sister then performed Vice Versa Love by Barrington Levy and Calvin Smith performed a rendition of Hero.

Several awards were given out during the event including awards for the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, which trains young people to sail and Beyond Rugby for mentoring and supporting at-risk youths.

Hilton Wolfe was named Father of the Year for his child’s essay about him, with special mentions going to Antoine Roach and Trenton Tankard.

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