Champion Storage Manager Frank Cates is organizing a Family Fun Fest to raise money for homeless students. He’s looking for sponsors, volunteers and vendors.
Frank Cates, facility manager at Champion Self Storage on Cypress Edge Drive, is just an ordinary schmuck trying to raise money for the school district.
(Those are his words.)
For some time now, he and his crew have been putting 16 hours a week into pounding the pavement. They go door-to-door and person-to-person, asking for contributions for Aug. 20’s Family Fun Fest, an event from which 100% of all proceeds will benefit Homeless 2 Homeward, Flagler County Public School’s partnership with the Flagler Rotary.
“We’re in charge of customer appreciation days,” he said of his storage location, “which are typically pretty boring, in my opinion.”
So this year he decided to try something new. Cates, a father to four, has only been working in Palm Coast since November, and has had no prior contact with the school system. But he wanted to spearhead a project that could make an impact.
He approached the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office first, which passed him to Katrina Townsend, Flagler Schools director of student services. She told him about Homeless 2 Homeward.
“I had no idea the statistics of homeless people in the school system … It’s been quite an eye-opener for me.” Cates said.
According to Flagler Schools Administrative Coordinator of Communications and Special Projects Sabrina Crosby, at the end of last school year, the district tallied 300 qualified homeless families.
A homeless student is considered one without a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.
Cates, “a preacher’s kid,” might be new to Palm Coast, but he and his family are no strangers to paying it forward.
Last year, his 14-year-old daughter was nominated by her teachers for Volunteer of the Year in Volusia County, where the Cateses currently live until they can transplant to Palm Coast. She helped in the school media center and in band. She also led a drive to collect winter clothes, which she packed in suitcases bought at yard sales, shipping them up north, to needy families. His wife also volunteers full time, for teen pregnancy. And Cates, whose company encourages him, and all of its employees, to take one paid day a month to volunteer, has worked with Habitat for Humanity, in Volusia.
The Family Fun Fest is a one-day event, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Aug. 20. There will be food, drinks, a bounce house and carnival games. The fest will also double as a full Homeless 2 Homeward registration site.
Admittance is free for guests and vendors. Anything a vendor earns from the fair is his to keep — but with one stipulation: Cates requests that every booth donate at least $40 directly to the Flagler County Education Foundation.
“Sell what you want,” he said of the vendors. “If you want to donate at the end of the day — great. If not — great!”
But the event isn’t just about charity, Cates said; it’s also about community-building. Once local businesses get involved, hopefully they’ll stay involved. Then Homeless 2 Homeward will have a full, and growing, catalog of sponsors.
He called Flagler’s mom-and-pop businesses, of which he already has a long list of sponsors, “the backbone” of the community. At the festival, school supplies, which will be donated to Flagler County’s S.T.U.F.F. (Supplying Things You Find Fundamental) Bus, will work as currency.
“We’re just hosting it. It’s not about us … It just comes down to the kids in the school, because they need both money and supplies,” he said.
To volunteer or to set up a booth at the fest, call Cates at 445-5122.
STUFFING THE S.T.U.F.F. BUS
In support of the Flagler County Education Foundation’s S.T.U.F.F. Bus, Prosperity Bank will host a school supply drive, July 18 through Aug. 6.
Residents can donate all types of school supplies, including backpacks, clothing and toiletries. Donations can be delivered 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, to 181 Cypress Point Parkway. For more call 437-7526, or 447-0404.
In addition, the Carver Center, at 213 E. Drain St., Bunnell, will host a supplies giveaway beginning at 2 p.m. Aug. 6. Call Other year-round drop-off locations are as follows:
• The Flagler County Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates
• The Flagler Auditorium
• Belk in Palm Coast
• Ladies Auxiliary VFW 8696
• Intracoastal Bank
• High Jackers Restaurant
• Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club
• Grand Haven Women’s Club
• Flagler Technical Center
• Palm Coast Ford
• PNC Bank Cypress Location
• Sew & Quilt Shop in Bunnell
• Colonial Bank on Cypress
• The Hair Gallery at St. Joe Plaza
• P & L Stables Inc.