Leaders of a recreation program for home-school children are seeking donations for soccer balls, bats and other items after someone broke into their storage shed.
Teresa Manganello, of Brandon, the founder of Tampa Bay HEAT — Home Education Activities Teams — said it wasn’t the first time they have had items stolen.
In fact, they moved their equipment to an undisclosed location after thieves stole items at the Homeschool Resource Center, 307 S. Parsons Ave., Brandon.
“The HEAT offers activities here,” Manganello said, adding they offer art, dance, drama, social events, academics, choir, piano and violin. “We have had issues at this location twice, which is why our sports equipment was elsewhere. Thieves took the copper from the air- conditioning units and broke into our shed and stole our popcorn and snow cone machine. They cut through a locked fence that has barbed wire on the top.”
Manganello said the group’s immediate needs include a metal storage shed that will not be as easy to break into as the one they previously used. They also need soccer balls, bats, batting helmets and flag football belts. Less pressing needs include a commercial popcorn machine and snow cone machine, two items that haven’t been replaced from the previous break-in.
A parent of two home-schooled children, Manganello started the activity teams in May of 2010.
“My kids’ best friends are kids they grew up playing on teams together,” she said. “One neat thing is that, since we travel as a family, you see the siblings who aren’t playing in the official game gathered and playing together on the sidelines.”
She said the group rents space at the YMCA and local playing fields owned by the county, which isn’t cheap. Charges run about $30 an hour for field usage.
Manganello said they offer sports for those ages 4 and up.
Their HEAT Wave Sports recreational program (cross-country, soccer, flag football, softball and basketball) for ages preschool through eighth grade meets Saturday mornings.
“The parents love this because you see the home-schooling dads socializing as well,” she said. “We have competitive sports for fourth through eighth grade (cross-country, swimming, volleyball, bowling, golf, soccer, basketball, track, tennis, flag football, archery and fencing) that play against local private schools.”
Their high school teams compete in the Florida High School Athletic Association as one of only four home-school cooperatives in Florida in the FHSAA. They offer girls volleyball, cross-country, bowling, swimming, golf, basketball, soccer, track, tennis and volleyball. They also have an adult softball team that plays in the county league.
“The HEAT community is like a family,” she said. “The moms benefit from the kids getting together, as they have social time as well. I have been ill since mid-June and have had dinner delivered to my home every night.”
As a home-schooling organization, she said the group doesn’t receive tuition money or federal funding.
“We are very frugal and raise funds year-round to pay for facilities and equipment,” she said.
For additional information or to donate, call (813) 361-5433, email tampa [email protected] or visit tampabayheat.org.