August 13-17 is Guadalupe Center’s 20th annual shoe and school supply drive for the children of Immokalee.
Who doesn’t remember those stressful thoughts on the first day of school: “Will my best friend be in my class? Will I like my teachers (and will my teachers like me)?”
For many of us fortunate enough to live or vacation on Marco, the most important question may have been, “What cool outfit should I choose to make the right impression with the other kids?”
But for hundreds of children in Immokalee, barely 30 minutes away from Marco who suffer under the terrible blight of poverty, those first-day emotions are profoundly different. They’re more likely to be thinking:
“Will I have shoes to wear? How can my family afford a backpack?” And, “will the other kids notice that I’m different?”
“No child should start school with pain or humiliation,” says Barbara Oppenheim, President of the Guadalupe Center, “especially when it’s so easy to fix. A simple thing like not having a decent pair of shoes can be a tremendous barrier to learning.”
Last year, with the generous support of Collier County residents, Guadalupe Center helped 570 impoverished students start the first day of school on the right foot.
For most of these children, Oppenheim says, it was the first pair of new shoes they have ever owned.
The excitement is high on the big day each year when the children get their much-anticipated field trip to Snyderman Shoes in Naples. They ride in style, thanks to the generosity of the Seminole Immokalee Casino and Corporate Coaches. A professional at Snyderman Shoes individually fits each student for his or her new pair of shoes, and the Snyderman staff serves a picnic lunch before sending them home with their precious boxes. One can’t have new shoes without new socks, of course, so each child also gets brand new socks, thanks to Laces of Love.
Expanding the Program
This year, with the help of the community, the Guadalupe Center is expanding the program in two ways, according to Oppenheim.
“We will now include other vital school-related supplies that can help increase a child’s success at the start of the new school year. Also, through the generosity of local community businesses and civic groups, we have secured a $5,000 matching fund so that every dollar raised will be matched dollar for dollar.”
How to Help
* Donate online at www.guadalupecenter.org/social-services/back-to-school-shoes
* Mail a check to the Guadalupe Center, 509 Hope Circle, Immokalee, FL 34142
* Drop off new shoes or school supplies at the Guadalupe Center Resale Shop at 8100 Trail Boulevard in Naples, at the corner of U.S. 41 and Vanderbilt Beach Road
School Supply Needs
- Elmer’s glue (bottles), glue sticks
- Crayola markers, Crayola crayons, colored pencils, dry erase markers
- #2 Pencils, erasers, scissors, 12-inch rulers
- Tempera paint, finger paint, water colors, Play-Doh
- Craft sticks, pipe cleaners, multicolored yarn
- Construction paper (all colors), manila paper, lined writing paper
- Kinder paper (broken midline paper), sentence strips, index cards
- Sheet protectors, folders with side pockets, storage bins
About The Guadalupe Center
The privately funded non-profit 501(c)3 organization has been serving the children and families of Immokalee for 30 years. Its mission is to break the cycle of poverty by providing educational, social, and other support programs and resources from early childhood education and after-school tutoring to college scholarships for the next generation of aspiring leaders. Guadalupe Center also provides wrap-around services at its soup kitchen and clothing room programs.
Information (239) 657-7711 www.guadalupecenter.org