Dignity U Wear, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit, recently made a big donation to Flagler’s S.T.U.F.F. Bus.
Former Flagler County Education Foundation Director Nicole Brose said she initially got the idea for the S.T.U.F.F. Bus — the service that dispenses supplies, clothing and toiletries year-round, through staff, to every school in Flagler — from Dignity U Wear, the Jacksonville-based clothing nonprofit.
Through a relationship she formed with the organization last year, with Project Management Director Debbie Jeffrey, Dignity U Wear has recently donated $140,000 worth of new clothes to Flagler Schools, to stock the bus.
“Funny how life is a circle,” she wrote in an email.
Founded by Holocaust survivor Henri Landwirth, Dignity U Wear was formed in 2000. Since its inception, it has donated more than 6.6 million articles of clothing to more than 450,000 children. Clothing is distributed through a network of 300-plus social service agencies nationwide.
“We read all the time that (Flagler’s) been one of the hardest hit by the economy,” said current Education Foundation Director Deborah Williams, “and I think (Brose) really did a great job with (getting attention here).”
The donation also falls perfectly in line with the foundation’s mission, she added, which is to give students “the basics they need to come ready to learn.”
Flagler’s need has been strongly communicated inside the community, as well, she said.
Frank Cates, of Champion Self-Storage, who is hosting a Family Fun Fest, Aug. 20, in support of Flagler Schools’ Homeless 2 Homeward program (see the Aug. 4 edition of the Palm Coast Observer), offered to donate his truck and time to travel to Jacksonville to pick up the clothing.
The $140,000 in clothing fills 115 boxes on five pallets. Supplies will be stored and sorted at Indian Trails Middle School.
“Everyone wants to do something; they want to help,” Williams said. “That’s something that everybody’s latched onto.”
But even more important than material donations, she feels, are mentoring and scholarship efforts. After ensuring that students are dressed and fed, you can start looking at the bigger picture, Williams said: college education.
The Take Stock in Children program, a high school-through-college state mentoring initiative for low-income, at-risk youths, will be Williams’ primary focus as foundation head.
“We can really make the longest and most transforming change through the Take Stock in Children program,” she said, citing 24 two-year college scholarships recently awarded to the district this year, for disbursal to ninth- through 12th-graders in the next six weeks.
The Education Foundation is currently seeking Take Stock in Children mentors. Mentors do not need to have a background in education.
“I think it’s really somebody that’s just able to listen, and not come with preconceptions,” William said.
For more, contact [email protected] schools.com, or 437-7526, Ext. 3125.
GRADUATE ONE, EVERYONE A 'BIG SUCCESS'
The first project led by new Flagler County Education Foundation Director Deborah Williams, “Graduate One, Everyone,” was a parent information event held at nine locations throughout the community.
More than 1,000 residents participated, exceeding expections.
Dozens of organizations collected supplies and sent checks, she said. There were more than 50 volunteers.
“It’s really a people-helping-people thing,” she said.
“A major emphasis of the presentation was the importance of parent involvement,” said Sabrina Crosby, projects coordinator, in an email.
Research from the Parent Teacher Association & Harvard Family Research Project 2010 indicates that, regardless of socioeconomic status, family participation doubles students’ academic success.