Turns out a couple cents can go a long way — or at least make a dent.
Two cents: That's how much money goes into the Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union Foundation every time a member — most of them educators — swipes a debit card or credit card. Those transactions generate close to $2 million annually, said the foundation's executive director, Mary Tlachac.
Then it's time to give it away.
"The money is earmarked to promote education, health and emotional well-being of our children," Tlachac said. "That's what our mission is. That's what we're about."
In 2012, the foundation donated $1.6 million to support educational programs in 15 Florida counties, Tlachac said, helping to fund things such as Take in Stock in Children programs, annual scholarships in each county and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile Unit that offers dental and medical care at local schools.
Just prior to the start of the 2013-14 school year, the foundation also awarded a $50,000 grant to help needy kids in 76 Pasco County public schools via the district's Assist, Believe and Care program. Most schools received $500 with a little extra going to schools where 75 percent or more of students qualify for free and reduced-cost meals.
No doubt, the grant provides a bit of a boost for a lot of kids, their families and faculty members.
Community support has long been an important facet of the ABC program's success with local churches, organizations and individuals pitching in to provide essentials such as back packs, school supplies, clothing, food staples, food baskets and gifts for students over the holiday season.
But faculty members tend to be the biggest year-round contributors to ABC programs, said Gulfside Elementary principal Chris Clayton.
The $858 in grant money his school received will certainly help out.
"I've already used some of that money for a couple of families that have approached me about getting their electricity turned on," he said.
He added that he's on the lookout for footwear for students. "I tend to keep my eyes on the shoes the kids are wearing. If I see that they're wearing flip-flops all the time, shoes with holes in them, shoes that are too big, then we'll get them something to wear. Sometimes a family will need emergency food over the weekend when Metropolitan Ministries is closed, so it will help with things like that."
At Lacoochee Elementary the grant will help provide clothing and shoes for students who have been directed to the school clinic by their teachers," said ABC coordinator Tracy Sanderson. "If we have families that come in and need extra assistance, we can help them. We bought some dishes because we had a family that was homeless and they had nothing, so we got some pots and pans and dishes to keep them going."
"We want to do what we can to help the kids succeed," Sanderson said. "And every little bit helps."
Michele Miller can be reached at [email protected]