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CECI announces end of year effort to raise funding

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Dec 15, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED The Children’s Education Center of the Islands announced its “Give To Our Year End Goal” effort, with the hopes of raising $50,000. One preschool family kicked off the effort by donating its professional time and expertise for photos of the students, which raised $600 and got the ball rolling.

An island preschool recently launched a fundraising campaign to help meet its year-end needs.

The Children’s Education Center of the Islands announced its “Give To Our Year End Goal” effort, with the hopes of raising $50,000. Executive Director Kerra Cook explained that like other nonprofits negatively impacted by the ongoing pandemic, COVID-19 has taken a toll on CECI’s finances too.

“We had to close for a few months, but we were still paying our teachers,” she said, noting that by having the preschool closed there was no tuition coming in. “So that was huge hit right there.”

Upon reopening, CECI had to implement new safety protocols in line with state requirements.

“Lower ratios in the classroom, depending on each age group,” Cook said, adding that reducing each class by a handful of students again means less tuition the preschool can bring in to cover its costs.

While CECI already had a cleaning company it was using, it replaced it with a more reputable professional company in light of COVID. It has hired a disinfecting company for the weekends. The preschool is also stocking higher quantities of gloves and cleaning products, along with masks.

“It’s all the time cleaning and disinfecting,” she said.

Cook added that as a nonprofit, CECI typically holds two major fundraisers each year. The spring festival helps to replenish the preschool’s financial reserves heading into the summer, while an event in the fall helps to raise funding for the year. Due to the pandemic, it could not hold either fundraiser.

“We couldn’t have in-person fundraisers, so we’re just trying to put something together,” she said. “Hence, why we started this campaign for our year-end giving. We had to do something.”

Cook explained that CECI typically runs on annual expenses of about $268,000, but that is prior to funding the scholarship program and any needed building repairs. She noted that The Sanctuary Golf Club Foundation stepped up to provide $25,000 for the scholarship program for their students.

“That was a huge lifesaver,” Cook said.

However, there are still building repairs and maintenance that need to be addressed.

“We have a very, very old facility that needs a lot of upkeep,” she said.

So, the preschool’s board of directors came up the idea of an end of year campaign.

“We had to be able to make an effort to replenish our financial reserves that we’ve been pulling from,” Cook said, explaining that CECI is a pillar in the community for the island’s families and workers.

“It’s an online fundraiser,” she added.

One family, the Galantinos, kicked off the effort by donating its professional time and expertise for an “in-house” initiative. Courtney and Carey Galantino, with Twist of Fate Imagery, captured photos of each child at school. The fundraiser raised $600 to start the forward moving momentum to hit $50,000.

“One of our parents, they decided to donate their services and try to raise money in-house in order to start that and get our families banded together, and then go out into the community,” Cooks said.

By visiting the dedicated campaign Webpage, there are tiers for giving:

– Marsh Rabbit donation: $25

– Cabbage Palm donation: $250

– Roseate Spoonbill donation: $500

– Stone Crab donation: $1,000

– Grouper donation: $5,000

– Bull Shark donation: $10,000

“They can drop off a donation, or they can go to our Website and donate there,” she said.

If they are more comfortable donating by check, checks can be made out to the Children’s Education Center of the Islands and sent to the mailing address of 350 Casa Ybel Road, Sanibel, FL 33957.

“In the beginning of the year, we’ll also have a sponsorship opportunity,” Cook said.

Further details will be released at that time.

“We’re part of the community, we’re the building blocks of the foundation of our island,” she said of the island institution that marked its 45th anniversary last year. “Even if you don’t have a child or aren’t connected to us, eventually these kids at our preschool are going to grow up and take care of Sanibel.”

“Investing in children is investing in the future of the island,” Cook added.

To donate, visit www.childrenseducationcenter.com/donate.

For more information, visit www.childrenseducationcenter.com or call 239-472-4538.