So maybe you have some time on your hands. Maybe not so much. Whatever the case, you want to help out, perhaps make a difference in the life of a child or a neighborhood school.
The welcome mat is out — whether it be working one-on-one with a reluctant reader, photocopying papers for a team of teachers, chaperoning a field trip, serving on the school advisory council, helping train an athlete to compete in the Special Olympics or simply recycling your newspapers.
Financial support and other gifts are another way to help — whether it be giving a monetary donation to the Pasco Education Foundation that funds student and teacher scholarships or offering up that clarinet that's been sitting idle for a while.
And even if you don't have money or time during the school day, just showing up to support the team at a Friday night football game or attending a school concert, drama or art show has its own merit. It shows you care.
Whatever your time frame or age, there's likely room for you. You can call your local school to see how you can help. Or check out the following opportunities:
• RSVP, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, provides meaningful opportunities for people 55 and older to participate in the schools and the community through volunteer service. School volunteer opportunities include tutoring in reading and math, mentoring, assisting teachers and schools, supporting school-based student intervention programs and serving at Safety Town when students visit on field trips. For information, call RSVP, Pasco County School District, at (813) 794-2207, (727) 774-2207 or (352) 524-2207, or go to www.pasco.k12.fl.us/communications/volunteer/rsvp.
• Take Stock in Children is an innovative approach to reducing Florida's dropout and teen crime rates.
Those selected for this program are promised long-term support and the opportunity to receive up to a four-year college education if successful in meeting the academic and social requirements.
Recipients are chosen based on their self-motivation, determination and desire to be a value to society. They are economically disadvantaged and may have other "at-risk" factors. The long-term support promised includes being assigned to an adult mentor.
Volunteers are required to mentor a middle or high school student once weekly at school. For information, contact Rosanne Heyser, program coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 794-2134.
• Big Brothers Big Sisters provides an opportunity for adults and high school students to make a difference in the lives of elementary students. Volunteers in the school-based program meet with a child for one hour once a week to help with homework, play games, make crafts — basically whatever the volunteer and child enjoy doing together. It's about building a friendship and having fun. To get started contact Donna Gans at email@example.com or (727) 372-1458, ext. 204.
• Special Olympics: Volunteers are needed to help at county and state games and to assist in weekly training sessions. Contact Valerie Lundin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 774-3062, or Judy Brunner at email@example.com or (813) 794-6476.
• Pasco Education Foundation Inc. advances student achievement and invests community resources to enrich educational opportunities for students and educators.
Since the foundation's inception, individuals, businesses and organizations have contributed time and money to support its work, enabling it to disburse more than $700,000 annually in creative teaching grants, scholarships, awards and computers to the students and staff of Pasco's public schools.
In addition, numerous in-kind materials and supplies, as well as volunteer hours, are donated by local businesses and civic-minded individuals and organizations. Call (352) 524-2705, (813) 794-2705 or (727) 774-2705, or contact Chip Wichmanowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Resource Recovery is a comprehensive recycling program that helps teachers and schools by recycling items that might otherwise end up in the trash. Many schools also have GreenFiber bins where the public can recycle newspaper, cardboard and other paper products to raise money for the school system. For a list of bin locations, visit recycle.pasco.k12.fl.us and click on "New! Community Paper Recycling Program" under the picture of the green bin.
Individuals and businesses are also welcome to donate a variety of materials (think arts and crafts, office supplies, etc.) to classroom teachers through Creation Station, 7227 Land O'Lakes Blvd., Building 5A, in Land O'Lakes. Individuals and businesses interested in scheduling an appointment, donating materials or volunteering for Creation Station should contact Karen Bryant, recycling coordinator, at email@example.com or (813) 794-2752. For a complete list of school recycling sites go to recycle.pasco.k12.fl.us/pages/how_recycle.html.