SEBRING — On Wednesday, approximately 200 kids got the backpacks and school supplies they needed, thanks to a Habitat for Humanity of Highlands County community partner.
It was the fifth year that Habitat has had a school supplies event for school-age children whose parents are currently being served by the home-ownership non-profit. This year, it was a couple of people who normally sponsor Habitat’s golf tournament who needed something to do once this year’s tournament got canceled.
“We were looking for a way to help out,” said Helen Ferry of Berkshire Hathaway.
She and her partner, Kim Reed, had sponsored catering for the 2016 golf tournament, just at they had for the previous three years.
They then committed to do the 2017 tournament, but it got canceled.
The next one would be the first quarter of 2017, said Sarah Creekmore, Highlands Habitat executive director.
Ferry and Reed had seen a video of last year’s home dedication for Tarniz and Trene Williams, new homeowners in Avon Park whose family now shares a backyard fence line with other Habitat clients, the family of Tyrone and Sophia Powell.
“We were teary-eyed,” Reed said. “Helen (Ferry) asked, ‘Is there something else we can do?’”
“And Sarah (Creekmore) said, “Absolutely!’” Ferry said.
Starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, until 4 p.m., Habitat program parents could visit the non-profit’s main office at 159 S. Commerce Ave. to pick up book bags, markers and other supplies.
Some kids carried big smiles on Wednesday. Some seemed pensive, perhaps because of the pending return to school after summer break.
When the line wasn’t long, and they had a chance to pause, kids posed for pictures with their new books, markers and backpacks.
When asked if they would pick between the golf tournament or the book bag giveaway next year, Reed and Ferry said together they probably would do both.
Creekmore said the supplies went to Habitat homeowners, as well as local families in the program who were affected by Hurricane Irma and are working towards becoming new homeowners.
She said Ferry and Reed, real estate agents, believe in the Habitat homeownership program and supporting local youth.
Also, Creekmore said, in addition to sweat equity hours for working on homes in the area, Habitat also awards those hours for those families’ children making all A’s and B’s on their report cards.
The children bring in their report cards each semester and they get hours for each A and each B. Creekmore said.
“This is a big help to their parents and helps motivate the kids to do well in school,” Creekmore said.