City of Homestead officials help local organizations prepare students in need for the upcoming school year

By Alyna Bello….

Pictured on the left are Start Off Smart (SOS) and Weed and Seed employees and volunteers with Councilman Elvis R. Maldonado at the Phichol Williams Center Backpack Giveaway. Pictured on the right are Councilman Maldonado and Vice-Mayor Judy Waldman with volunteers and the students who received backpacks for the new school year at the Redland Housing Center.

Homestead City leaders came together to show their support and help local organizations in their efforts to get underprivileged students ready for the new school year.

On Friday, August 6, 2010, City of Homestead Councilman and Education Chair Elvis Maldonado joined forces with the Start Off Smart and Weed and Seed organizations to get students ready for the new school year. Families lined up at the Phichol Williams Center to receive colorful backpacks filled with essential school supplies. Backpacks were divided into two categories for elementary and high school students.

The Homestead Education Committee donated backpacks and school supplies such as paper, folders, pens, pencils. Over 200 backpacks were donated by the Children’s Trust and with the help of grant money and donations an additional 700 backpacks were purchased. In total, over 900 book bags were given to students. Councilman Maldonado stated, “It’s great to see these students will be able to start off the year with the tools they need and not have to worry about getting these basic school supplies. The Weed and Seed and SOS employees and volunteers continue to do a wonderful job in helping adults and children get the needed services and help them find opportunities to be successful.

There is nothing better than seeing a child excited and ready to start school again.” In addition to Friday’s event, on Saturday, August 7, 2010, another book bag give away was organized for migrant children. The Kids 4 Kids Program, a non-profit organization, collaborated with Miami- Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) Title I Migrant Education Program for its annual backpack distribution at the South Dade and Redland Housing Centers. Mayor Steven Bateman and Vice-Mayor Judy Waldman donated essential school supplies to be included in the backpacks. Vice- Mayor Waldman and Councilman Maldonado attended the event. Over 400 children received backpacks, school supplies, and stuffed animals.

At the end of the two backpack giveaways, Cipriano Garza, Executive Director of the Title I Migrant Education Program, thanked Mayor and Council and volunteers that came to help and were committed to making this a successful event. One of the migrant parents emotionally thanked the organizers and volunteers for such a wonderful experience.

Vice-Mayor Judy Waldman stated, “The services that are being provided by Kids 4 Kids and the Migrant Education Program will leave a lasting imprint on these children and their families. It was beautiful to see the community come out and help those in need. I believe if you give back to those around you, you receive so much more.”

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