Approximately two weeks ago, Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean and the entire state of Florida causing damage and devastation for many families.

This coming Monday a new set of people will be left devastated by the hurricane’s effects: students and teachers arriving to their classrooms.

As they were required to do, the Lee County School District turned many of its buildings in to temporary shelters to help those who felt their homes might be inadequate to withstand Irma. That included some of their schools, whose staff were forced to unlock classrooms and allow shelter seekers to wait out the storm in the same rooms our children receive their math and reading lessons.

With schools protecting hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of shelter inhabitants, inevitably frustrations began to mount and problems began to occur with a small number of the shelter seekers.

Some of those who sought refuge …. did not conduct themselves appropriately.

According to Paige Phillips: “They stole from teachers, wiped feces on walls, took children’s school supplies like crayons and glue sticks, they ruined smart boards and destroyed classrooms. Most of these teachers spend their OWN MONEY to purchase school supplies for their students.”

While the LCSD provides a robust set of supplies for its faculty, as Phillips noted there are plenty of instances where teachers all over the country buy supplies on their own. And of course, many parents purchase supplies for their children, who leave them at school at night rather than lug everything home every day.

According to multiple reports like the one from Phillips, many of those supplies were destroyed or stolen during Irma. So Phillips created a fundraising effort with the specific goal of replacing some of the supplies.

The Gateway Sun doesn’t publicly back many causes, but many of the schools affected were the schools that many Gateway children attend — including Varsity Lakes (where my own kids go) which reportedly had as many as 2,800 shelter seekers and was damaged.

The two easiest ways to participate would be to shop on and purchase things like crayons, markers, art supplies, whatever you’d like to donate, and ship them to Phillips where she works, or to donate money through the GoFundMe page that Phillips set up.

Or you can always go to Publix or Staples and buy supplies, and drop them off in person.

Phillips works at Moxie Salon in the Starbucks Plaza which is located at:

8595 College Parkway
Fort Myers, FL 33919

Please use the above address for purchases as well, and address the deliveries to Paige Phillips. Donations have already begun pouring in, so if you’d like to help out the teachers and students, please consider helping out.

Phillips is also trying to raise $2,000 in cash (she’s at $820 as of the time of this writing) through the following GoFundMe page:

Even just $10, $20 will add up quick. Phillips is already nearly half-way to her goal. While GoFundMe does take a small portion (approximately 8%) to pay for its credit card processing fees and website operation expenses, every penny that’s forwarded to Phillips will go toward buying supplies for teachers – who will then obviously turn around and distribute them to the students.

Should you have any further questions about this effort, please call Paige at 239-887-0888.

Oh, and a few minutes after I publish this article, that $820 will become $870. Please join me and help out our teachers and students!

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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