What the local schools lost in Hurricane Michael many others, inside and outside the county, are trying to replace.
Take for example, the St. Joe Community Foundation which just before Christmas bestowed a donation of $100,000 on the Education Foundation of Gulf County, a non-profit dedicated to supporting programs in the public schools.
The St. Joe Foundation grant will help fund Chromebooks, iPads and ClearTouch Screens and Stands to bolster technology in the schools.
In addition, the Education Foundation has received $7,000 from the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation, $4,000 from the Helios Foundation ($1,000 to each principal/guidance counselor for immediate student, teacher, staff or school needs), $7,000 from Florida Blue and individual donations of another $350.
All of them for grants linked to the storm and its aftermath.
That is beside the 800 pillows and hundreds of blankets distributed to elementary school children and the fundraising effort by Georgia middle and elementary schools to supply books for school media centers.
Nor does it count the “Books for the Panhandle” campaign which helped deliver 8,000 books to the county’s two elementary schools the week before the Christmas break.
“Many of the donations come with a note about our community or what inspired them to donate for a specific purpose,” said Donna Thompson of the EFGC. “But most just come in an envelope with a check, books, or pillowcases, from all over the country.”
The Education Foundation of Gulf County’s work also includes providing mini-grants to bolster classroom programs.
The funds supporting those grants came from the Duke Energy Foundation, the Tapper Foundation and the Florida State Matching Grant Program, which matches funds raised by local education foundations.
Just prior to the disruption of Hurricane Michael, the board of foundation met to review 18 proposals for grants, funding 13 to the tune of $15,525.
Those include $5,000 for “Let’s Get Cooking” at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School as the district pursues establishing a culinary arts program at the school.
There was also Christy Wood at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School, who received $2,400 for curriculum “Collaboration at Its Best,” and Debbie Gerber at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School, who received $1,760 for curriculum to boost test results for high school seniors.
Angel Parker at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School received two grants to enhance e-reading and Spanish in the library and Karen Minger at the media room in Port St. Joe Elementary School received funding to enhance math and language arts learning.
Each of the four public schools received at least one grant.
“All the projects were exceptional and we wish we were able to support every grant submitted,” Thompson said. “Thank you to all the teachers who took the time to apply for a grant on behalf of their students.”
The EFGC board of directors includes Thompson, Kara Rish, Heather Jones, Jen Bogaert, Debbie Gerber, Jordan Miles, Cindy Belin, Mindy Pate and Krystal Terry.