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3H Exchange collecting food and toys for homeless students

By Staff | Dec 8, 2015

Time is running out to donate food items and toys for distribution to local homeless students.

The 3H Exchange, or High Schools Helping the Homeless, has partnered with the Cape Coral Police Department and the Cape Coral Fire Department to set up collection bins throughout the city. They are located at all 10 fire stations, along with the Chester Street Resource Center and police headquarters.

“This is our second year doing the drive,” Eric Decker, founder of the 3H Exchange, said.

Last year, over 700 food items and approximately 25 boxes of toys were collected.

As of October, there were 527 homeless students registered within the Lee County School District. Decker explained that the 3H Exchange works with each school’s social workers and counselors.

“They tell us how many students are in the school,” he said.

“We never meet the students,” Decker added. “It’s 100 percent confidential.”

The 3H Exchange then divides up the donations for distribution among the schools, planning not just for the student but also for their family. Last year, all of the donations went to schools in the Cape.

“We focus on the Cape first and then we spread out,” he said, adding that the program has expanded this year to include schools in Fort Myers. “Our drive is really focused on the local community.”

People can donate new unwrapped toys and canned food or non-perishable food items.

“Our biggest push is really for the non-perishable food items,” Decker said. “There’s just so many organizations that do toy drives during this time of year.”

Suggested donations include peanut butter, jelly, cans of tuna, crackers, bread and more.

“We do get a lot of Ramen noodles and canned soup,” he said.

The official deadline to donate is Friday, but the items will be collected through the weekend.

“Our goal this year, obviously, is to do better than last year,” Decker said.

The 3H Exchange hopes to double the food donations.

“We’re on our way to making our goal,” he said on Tuesday.

The Cape police took part in last year’s inaugural drive.

“This remarkable group of young men and women identified a problem and, working with guidance counselors and social workers in the schools, took action to help their fellow students in need,” Sgt. Dana Coston, spokesman for the CCPD, said on Tuesday.

“This kind of leadership, grounded in the spirit of helping others, is something we, as a police department, hold dear,” he added.

For additional information about the drive, visit on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/The3HExchange.