EAST TAMPA – Several members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and about 15 volunteer United Way donned garden gloves and got busy.
They joined forces to build a Learning Garden at Edison Elementary, with benches, writing surfaces and landscaping for an outdoor space in which to enjoy class. Together they mulched the sitting area, moved in benches, planted butterfly-attracting plants and installed an edging to separate the area.
The school at 1607 E. Curtis St. was one of five chosen to receive a $1,000 grant for an education-related project.
To celebrate the projects and to present the checks to all five schools, the Buccaneers, their mascot Captain Fear and some Bucs cheerleaders participated in a school assembly prior to the work day.
Wide receiver Russell Shepard told the students at the assembly to work hard and “listen to your elders.”
He said, “Treat others with respect and believe in yourself.”
The project was part of Hometown Huddle, a partnership between the Bucs and the United Way for 15 years, said Afira Defries, chief development and innovation officer for United Way. She said the United Way and NFL have been partnered for 40 years on projects.
Defries told the students at the assembly, “You see all these adults - including all these amazing athletes. They are here for you and all you have to do is do your best.”
Other schools receiving donations were : Lanier Elementary for a book nook, LaVoy Exceptional Center for a life skills Lab, Lockhart Elementary for heart monitors to use in physical education/health education and Mort Elementary for a school-to-home connection kits.
Mort principal Woodland Johnson said the school has a high percentage of Hispanic families. The parents will receive instruction on how to help their children read better and how to help them with homework in a planned reading room.