The Hillsborough Education Foundation hosted the annual fundraising luncheon on Sept. 19 at the Hilton Tampa Downtown, raising more than $138,000 to advance the HEF mission and put toward free school supplies for students in need across the county.
Since 2002, the Teaching Tools Store has provided free school supplies to economically disadvantaged students all school year long. It is a brick-and-mortar store where Hillsborough County Public School teachers can collect free school supplies to bring back to their classrooms and share with their students. Last school year, $2.6 million in free supplies was donated to local classrooms through Teaching Tools.
The 11th annual Teaching Tools Luncheon, presented by Suncoast Credit Union, included remarks from HCPS Superintendent Jeff Eakins, Suncoast CEO Kevin Johnson, HEF President Kim Jowell and HEF Board Chair Kim Thresher.
Attendees also heard from Burney Elementary School fifth-grader Mikaiah Walker and her teacher, Tina Cook, who directly benefit from the Teaching Tools Store. Mikaiah shared that she and her classmates were able to create posters to promote the importance of respect at their school with supplies they received from Teaching Tools. The class began the campaign after seeing the results of an annual climate survey, which showed that many Burney students did not feel respected by their peers. After the campaign, the survey results in that area improved by double digits.
"The Teaching Tools Store was the reason we had all that we needed," Mikaiah said. "The posters helped to let our students know that respect was important at Burney."
Remarks were also given by brothers Giovany and Gian Giron, students in HEF's Take Stock in Children scholarship and mentoring program.
Also at the luncheon, long-time Teaching Tools volunteer Melissa Schumacher was named the 2017 Sue House Champion forTeaching Tools, an honor awarded each year to one individual who makes significant contributions to education through their time, actions, talents and dedication. The inaugural award was given last year to its namesake, Sue House, who served on HEF's Board of Directors when the Teaching Tools Store was brought under the Foundation's umbrella in 2002. She has been a steadfast advocate for the store and still volunteers her time there.
Schumacher faithfully volunteers in the store three times per week and has logged nearly 3,000 volunteer hours in the last 10 years. She previously taught in Hillsborough County Public Schools for 38 years, retiring from Crestwood Elementary.
We'd like to thank Presenting Sponsor Suncoast Credit Union, along with all other event sponsors and attendees, for their support.