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Community foundation donates to 3 elementary schools in Cape

By Staff | Oct 29, 2009

Some school children in Cape Coral are going without the basics that most take for granted.
They go to school in dirty, worn clothing. They wear shoes with holes in them. They eat only during school hours, often going hungry on the weekends when school is not in session.
The Cape Coral Community Foundation wants to change that, and during a check presentation at Rumrunner’s on Wednesday night, executive director Beth Sanger impressed upon the crowd that the children of Cape Coral need help.
The checks, totaling $2,100, were divvied up evenly among Skyline Elementary, Patriot Elementary and Hector A. Cafferata Junior Elementary.
Each school is a Title I school, which means that 75 percent of the children who attend are on free or reduced lunches.
Skyline Elementary School Principal Chuck Vilardi said this is the first year that Cape Coral has had a single Title I school, let alone three.
At Skyline alone, the number of students who receive free or reduced lunches increased from 49 percent to 72 percent over three years.
“Without proper clothing and footwear the children can’t learn,” Vilardi said. “They don’t have even the basics and it affects their learning … some of the kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from. If their needs aren’t met, their focus isn’t where it needs to be.”
The funds are left over from a backpack drive conducted by the CCF and the Giving Alliance of Women.
The remaining proceeds were directed to the Title I schools in hopes of providing much needed relief.
Often, teachers at the schools try to provide for their students out of their own pocket.
Skyline guidance counselor Nancy Afflerbach said her office resembles, at times, a Goodwill store because of the number of clothes she has on hand for students.
Trips to Target to buy clothes for students have had some interesting side effects.
“I’ve been shopping so much at the kid’s section of Target, people think I work there,” she said.
Though Afflerbach was speaking lightly of the situation, the truth is that children need help.
Patriot Elementary Principal Carol Bromby said she sees some recovery among her students — more positive attitudes, reports that their parents are finding jobs — but their reality is much more grim than the realities of generations that have come before.
“These kids are more privy to information than we were as children,” she said. “Some go to bed hearing about the trouble their parents are having and it affects their learning.”