F.I.S.H. of San-Cap kicks off back-to-school supplies drive
F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva is collecting school supplies to help local families start off the new year on the right foot – however that may look – and extended the deadline for the community to donate.
The human services organization, which lends a helping hand to those who live on, work on and visit the islands, recently kicked off its Back-to-School Supplies Program for the 2020-21 school year. Initially, it had planned to accept donations through Aug. 3, but has since extended the date to Aug. 7.
“We do it because we have a lot of families on-island that are using our services and are struggling to make ends meet,” Executive Director Alicia Tighe said of the drive, noting that school supplies are becoming more burdensome cost-wise every year and this provides some financial relief for families.
“We want to make sure going into school each year the students have what they need,” she added.
In 2019, F.I.S.H. distributed supplies to over 115 school-aged children, along with the more than 70 received underwear and socks, as part of the program. It is expecting over 120 requests this year.
Tighe attributed the increase in demand to an organic growth of need in the community and family sizes, but also pointed to the impact of COVID-19 and slower summertime business. A good portion of F.I.S.H.’s clients are island workers who have seen their hours cut or lost jobs due to the pandemic.
“More people, I think, are taking advantage of some of our programs to make ends meet in other parts of their budget,” she said, noting that the off-season months are usually harder on working families.
F.I.S.H. started collecting donations last week.
“We’re doing well,” Tighe said on July 23.
She acknowledged, however, that the health crisis appears to be impacting the level of donations. In a normal year, people would be out and about shopping and just pick up a couple of items to donate.
“But because of COVID, I think people aren’t doing that so much,” Tighe said.
Those who want to help can drop off or mail either supplies or financial donations to the Walk-In Center, at 2430-B Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. A collection bin is inside upfront or people can ring the doorbell and staff will come to get the items.
She noted that masks and social distancing guidelines are in place.
“They can also consider donating by check or credit card if they just want to make a financial donation,” Tighe said, adding they should make a notation that the donation is for the Back-to-School Supplies Program. “We have volunteers that will go out and make the purchases of supplies.”
As for what type of items are needed, F.I.S.H. is seeking basic school supplies.
“For all age groups, K through 12,” she said.
For the complete list of school supplies by grade for the Lee County School District, visit www.leeschools.net/parent_portal/back_to_school/supply_lists.
F.I.S.H. also provides students with backpacks, plus socks and underwear if needed to start off the school year. Financial donations are best for these because it can work with families on sizing.
“With the school supplies, it’s kind of a one-size-fits-all,” Tighe said.
Gift cards are provided to families, so they can pick out and buy some of their own items.
“We are also including F.I.S.H. cloth face masks for kids this year in age-appropriate sizes,” she said, explaining that the protective masks are being made by one of the volunteers at the organization.
As for how the school year will look, it is a changing situation that F.I.S.H. is monitoring.
“Each family is making the decisions best for them,” Tighe said, explaining that some could return to class and others may do virtual instruction. “Kids are going back to school, in one shape or form.”
She noted that the annual drive provides some regularity and routine.
“The kids love to come in and be able to get their supplies,” Tighe said. “For us to be able to give them some bright points and some normalcy, it’s really positive – it’s really just helping out the kids.”
For more information, contact 239-472-4775 or visit www.fishofsancap.org.