Give and take: Volunteers get free breakfast/ live entertainment

Over forty volunteers attended a breakfast last Tuesday at Tommie Barfield Elementary cafeteria.  The event was put on by faculty and students to say 'thank you' for the many contributions volunteers make at the school.

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Over forty volunteers attended a breakfast last Tuesday at Tommie Barfield Elementary cafeteria. The event was put on by faculty and students to say "thank you" for the many contributions volunteers make at the school.

Log onto the Web site, fill out an application, answer a few questions and wala! You are now the newest volunteer for Collier County Schools.

Debbie Cooper, Volunteer Coordinator at Tommie Barfield Elementary (TBE) says volunteers help out in so many ways and students and staff like to show appreciation for those efforts.

“Volunteers help kids with reading, writing and math. They help students one-on-one or in groups. They also help our teachers prepare materials,” Cooper explained. “Sometimes we don’t feel like we appreciate them enough, so we gather them all together and the whole school works together. The teachers create thank you cards, we create place mats, we create music, we create poetry, it all comes together in a nice program for our volunteers to show our appreciation because they are very important to us.”

Last Tuesday morning, over 40 “teacher’s helpers” gathered in TBE cafeteria to enjoy sausage, waffles, fruit toppings and juice while students read poems and sang songs of thanks.

Izabella Whitman, volunteer, says she just enjoys being around her daughter and other children at the school. She likes helping the teacher and seeing how the whole system works on a daily basis.

“I get to see the teaching styles of teachers and how they approach children. I see how much they teach students at such an early age,” she said. “Kindergarteners are actually reading. When I was a kindergartener I don’t remember doing the stuff they do, like the months and days and even and odd numbers. They yell out the odds and they whisper the evens. The teachers have little techniques they use. I would never come up with them.”

She added, “It’s amazing how teachers teach. It’s so creative and it actually sticks in the kids’ heads.”

Tommie Barfield Elementary boasts around 100 volunteers. When parents and other helpers from the community log in at the front office, the hours count towards a district volunteer award. TBE proudly receives that award year after year. Cooper says volunteers enrich the quality of the school, teaching students the real meaning of giving.

“They just touch the lives of our students and teachers in more ways than we can say. Not just academically but through positive energy that children are able to understand. It helps children to understand giving,” Cooper said. “We have several community members who come down in the winter. They call and say, ‘We’re here!’ And we’re so glad to have them. They’re so good at helping our students work.”

TBE always welcomes new volunteers, who would like to help teachers once a month, once a week or everyday. If you’d like to participate, visit the Collier County School District’s website at and fill out an online application.

“These kids love me! Sometimes I have to tell them to go back to their seat because they’re talking to me. Sometimes they’ll hug or kiss me. It’s so sweet. And when I volunteer just for Halloween or a school trip they all run up and say ‘Kloie’s Mom!’ And it makes me feel really good,” explained Whitman. “They love me and I love them back, like my own children. I want to take them all home!”

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