In Immokalee, Florida 30 mph winds were reported.
Sea Gate Elementary School is adopting schools in Immokalee to make sure every child has food to eat following Hurricane Irma. But unlike other volunteer efforts, this one is aimed at lasting for a long time.
Every Thursday, parents and students will donate food and drink items that will be sent to school children in Immokalee. During the first week, Sea Gate donated more than 3,000 snack and drink bags.
“We are working together to make sure everyone gets what they need,” said Bev Budzynski, the school's principal.
“I think we have enough to give to every student in Immokalee,” added Diane Santacrose, assistant principal at Sea Gate.
Last Thursday, eight tables in the cafeteria were filled with donated snacks and drinks as dozens of volunteers filled bags with five items each: something salty, something sweet, a protein, a fruit snack and a drink. There was everything from protein bars and granola bars, to Goldfish, crackers, instant oatmeal and instant potatoes, to fruit roll-ups and juice boxes.
Teachers and administrators from Immokalee came by to fill their vehicles with the bags that they are distributing to their students.
“We will do this every Thursday until everyone is taken care of in that community,” Budzynski said. “The first most pressing need is food, but we will help out with whatever they need.”
Jodi Heinold, the school's Parent Teacher Organization outreach coordinator, volunteered all day with her children Matthew, 7 and Avery, 5.
“This will supplement them on the weekends to make sure they have food,” Heinold said. “Our plan is to keep this up while the parents of the children in Immokalee are rebuilding their lives. This is so the help doesn’t stop right after the disaster and we can continue to help the community.”
Lindsay Metcalf, a Sea Gate parent, hauled in a big box of snacks to donate.
“We love helping the community,” she said. “And anything we can do to help the people in Immokalee, we will do.”
Jamie Flatley, a third grade teacher at Village Oaks Elementary in Immokalee, stopped by to get a carload of snack bags.
“We are kind of speechless at the moment,” she said about Sea Gate’s effort. “They are fulfilling the basic needs for our students to be successful. It’s awesome.”
Principals in Immokalee are excited about the outpouring of support from Sea Gate.
“They don’t realize the impact they are going to make on our children’s lives just by giving them a snack pack to take home,” said Laura Mendicino, principal at Highlands Elementary School in Immokalee. “To see our community stepping forward no matter where they are from, it is really impressive. This is going to help those who are really hit by the hurricane. It’s amazing they got that kind of reaction based on a couple of emails.”
Susan Jordan, principal of Pinecrest Elementary School in Immokalee, believes the snack bags will give the children in Immokalee the extra nourishment they need when food is scarce especially on the weekends when there are no school meals.
“It gives them sense of control over their own hunger,” Jordan said. “If we send them with some snacks of their own, it empowers them and helps them until school meals resume on Monday.”