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Monday, Jul 16, 2018
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What are Tampa area parents doing with their kids while waiting for school to start?

School's out while workers get the campuses back in shape for classes after Hurricane Irma. That means finding things for kids to do during a break that was clearly unplanned.

We asked parents how their children are spending the time, and if they had any issues with supervising their younger ones if they had to return to work before school resumes. The responses we received highlighted understanding bosses and caring kids, many of whom are eager to return to their schools. (We do understand that people without power, still struggling with the storm's aftermath, could not respond. We've worked to detail their stories elsewhere.)

Not everything could fit in print, so we're using this space to share a sampling of what readers told us.

"Since the news that Irma was coming our son jumped into action. He started by going to our local sand bagging station at the Land O Lakes Rec center and started filling bags for our neighbors. Once he realized that the line was long and there was a far greater need then he was able to do going back and forth he arranged for a dump truck of fill dirt to be delivered to our home, he paid for it with his own money, arranged a group of kids to volunteer, then filled and delivered over 300 sandbags to our community. He then went on to help the seniors in our neighborhood bring in all the items from their patios, pick up supplies needed, and made sure all were prepared. After working all day he then drove from Land O Lakes to Lithia to pick up and deliver 50 bags of dog food to a rescue. Since Irma has hit he has been out every day from 7am until 6pm cleaning up and removing debris. He has made 3 trips to the dump in Springhill so far. Did I mention he is only 15?! Dylan is a special kid and I know I may be bias being his mom, but below you can see the community feels the same about him." - Bridgett Hoch, Trinity

"My girls are 10 and 12, and one attends a public middle school and the other a private elementary school. The hurricane closings have wreaked havoc on our schedules, but in the grand picture, we are incredibly lucky. While they are amazing straight A students and quite responsible, we don't feel that they are ready to stay home alone yet. I'm in construction sales and my wife is in medical billing. We rely on school and the YMCA programs to help with our schedules because we have little support network locally. Most of that network that we do have are dealing with their own storm related problems. As a compromise, my wife has modified her work hours to evening with her employer allowing her to work after hours to accommodate. I've had to start work and end work earlier and bring more work home than I typically would. We each used one of our PTO days as well so that we can spend one fun day with them." - Rob Lewis, Trinity

"My kids, ages 3 and 7, helped survey the damage, and helped clean the leaves and twigs from our yard and our neighbors. We flew a kite the day after the hurricane - great wind and great photos! My husband and I own a local law firm. We maintain space for the kids to come to the office and 'work' for short periods of time. On Tuesday, I took my kids, plus those of my office manager and a neighbor/business tenant (a realtor) to the park in the morning, and the neighbor/realtor watched kids at her house in the afternoon. Kids had a great time, and all of us managed to get something done! My mom has also been a help!" - Elizabeth Devolder, Wesley Chapel

"My kids volunteered to work at the Fasano special needs hurricane shelter in Hudson and I'm extremely proud of them for stepping up!" - Lynda Gowing, west Pasco

"My ten year old has been out with his dad helping clear branches, trees and debris from or rental properties. He also helped take down all our plywood window covers which he helped install over the weekend as well. He and my 14 year old daughter plan to help with the Mitchell High School and Seven Springs Middle School cleanup this Friday." - Toni Maxton, Trinity

"My twins were very upset by no school .. they have been busy on Khan Academy ..... and my son working on his eschool work...." - Mary Wainwright, New Port Richey

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