MIAMI (CBS4)- The first day of school is fast approaching, and children will need to have the essentials for the big day. But many children, especially those in foster care, are at a disadvantage. That’s why a South Florida program stepped in to help out.
With close to 3,000 children in the foster care system in South Florida, many area children, already with challenges at home, now face the start of a new school year with anxiety about acquiring needed school supplies.
But important and inspiring program run by Family Resource Center of South Florida (FRC), a non-profit organization that bridges the gap for struggling families, works to resolve the problem by providing new school supplies and backpacks to foster kids. Supplies include mechanical pencils, glue sticks, pencils, colored pencils, markers, pens, index cards, two-pocket folders and notebook paper.
On Wednesday, members of the organization, which is in its 6th year, handed out supplies to student. Mother Lesbia Perez of Miami received a surprise she had been praying about.
“Thank God you guys called and are giving me a hand because I really needed it,” she told case workers as they arrived at her home.
While it may not seem like much, she smiles big as school supplies are handed over for her four kids.
As the kids riffle through their new backpacks loaded with school supplies, Perez explained she didn’t know what she was going to do. Without a job or any money, supplies seemed like an impossible task.
But on Wednesday it all changed when Family Resource Center arrived at her front door with everything the kids needed, including gift cards for uniforms.
The organization, through its case workers, are dropping off donated school supplies to some 350 children this week.
John Rodriguez, who just turned 10-years-old, said he really needed the supplies.
“It’s a huge deal because I needed all this stuff and I really need it for school,” he said.
Perez said that as a single parent of four children and with an impossible time finding work, life has been hard.
“I’m over here struggling but I’m not giving up,” she said. “I’m going to keep it up for these kids and I am going to be the best mother that I can be. And the love that they need, I am going to give it to them.”
Dorit Matthews, the director of development for the organization helping Perez, explained she’s not alone.
“Many of the families such as the Perez’s they don’t have the resources to put together a backpack full of supplies,” she said.
Family Resource has thousands of kids in need, but unfortunately not enough supplies to help them all, she said.
Matthews is hoping South Floridians will step up and fill the void as they shop this weekend for their own kids.
“I think there is something great about engaging your own kids to think about their classmates and other folks who maybe don’t have as much this time of year obviously because of the recession,” she said. “There are always families who could use a hand.”
The organization is also dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and includes child placement in a certified foster home, mental health counseling, ongoing home visits and assessments, tutoring, school uniforms, adoptions and other interventions and support as needed.
The organization encourages those heading out this weekend to get school supplies tax free to pick up a second set then head to their Web site. You may also make donations on their Web site so that the organization can purchase supplies in bulk at wholesale prices