WIMAUMA – For some families, it takes a community to get the kids ready for school. And volunteers from across Tampa Bay came together at Good Samaritan Mission recently to do just that when the Wimauma-based mission hosted its 10th annual back-to-school event.
Through a grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, 700 people from Balm and Wimama areas received lunch, and 408 school-aged child received a free backpack and school supplies.
“We help children in need get ready for school,” said Anne Madden, the mission’s community engagement coordinator. “And parents learn about resources to help them build stronger families.”
According to Madden, nearly 70 percent of adults the mission serves are illiterate. These same parents want better lives for their children, so the back-to-school event helps them get their kids excited about school.
Volunteers were on hand to give free face painting and haircuts. For the fourth year in a row, a group came from Pass-a-Grille Beach Community Church to cook and serve lunch. Volunteers from Trinity Baptist Church in Sun City Center, who come monthly to support the mission, handed out the school supplies.
Home Depot employees helped children build wood pencil boxes. A Walgreen’s pharmacist from the store on Gibsonton Drive in Riverview discussed immunizations, took blood pressures and gave discounted flu shots.
Representatives from the University of Florida talked with families about nutrition and healthy eating. Other organizations sharing information on available resources included: USF’s Latino Style, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, The Crisis Center, Hillsborough County Planning Commission and Sam’s Club.
Good Samaritan Mission has provided educational and pastoral assistance to families in need for the past 30 years. It is led by the Rev. William Cruz, who serves as executive director.
For more information, visit www.gsmission.org or call (813) 634-7136.
Elaine Speer is a freelance writer and photographer who can be reached at [email protected]