Back-to-school just like any other kid!

We could feel a buzz in Coalition hallways during leading up to the big event!  Donors dropped off all kinds of needed items; staff found storage space where there was none; and clients helped sort and organize the boxes of shoes, backpacks, pens, paper, and other school supplies for the festivities.  The Coalition was planning for it 2nd Annual Back to School Festival at the main campus Center for Women and Families on Saturday, August 20th.

And what a super day Saturday was!  The nearly 200 children who call the Coalition’s two campuses “home” were thrilled to receive brand new backpacks courtesy of Florida’s Blood Centers (FBC), Wells Fargo Bank, DRMP, Inc., Hilton Grand Vacations, and Chase Bank.  On closer look, our kids in the 5-12 age group and teens from 13–17 saw that their backpacks had been loaded by our wonderful volunteers with grade-appropriate school supplies, thanks to Staples; DRMP, Inc.; Cole Haan; and Winter Park Health Foundation.  As a special surprise, the teens also received scientific calculators thanks to FBC!  Not forgetting the “supply needs” of the tykes four and under, our pre-schoolers’ backpacks were instead stuffed with crayons and coloring books.

Excitement reigned as our homeless kids got new back-to-school school outfits, courtesy of the Sonny’s BBQ Second Annual New Clothing Drive for the Coalition, and new shoes donated by First Unitarian Church of Orlando’s Alliance ministry.  Givens, Voelpel and Friends provided some almost-new outfits to add to the mix. 

Having one’s hair look just so on the first day of school matters to all kids – whether they are homeless or not.  Our wonderful friends from PAUL MITCHELL the School really understand that, and once again donated their time and talents to make sure our children were well coiffed.

A Back-to-School Festival shouldn’t be all about the requisite school supplies and duds, however.  It should also be about a” last weekend” of fun before classes and homework descend.   Our festival did not disappoint!  Coalition youngsters bounced to their hearts’ content in the giant Bounce House donated by EXPEDIA; had their faces painted, participated in arts and crafts projects, and snacked on freshly made popcorn and flavored snow-cones thanks to the generous folks at USIS.

  And what was that delicious aroma coming from the dining room?  That was the delicious lunch cooked and served by SONNY’s BBQ, making sure that all our residents – homeless single adults and parents with children alike – thoroughly enjoyed the day!

An event such as this one could never happen without the wonderful individuals, businesses and organizations who donated the much-needed items.   The day also could not have happened without the time, dedication and enthusiasm of our wonderful volunteers who came out by the dozens – both before and during the festival – to make sure Coalition children could start school this year just like any other kid!

On behalf of our clients, we thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts! Please click here to see a slide show of photos, thanks to the time and talent donated by Frank Mitchell.

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