This is what Niceville kids in need have to have before they go back to school. The time to help them is now!

Tools for Schools kicks of for school year 2023-2024

Although summer vacations are less than halfway over for the Okaloosa and Walton school students, the Niceville-based Sharing & Caring food bank has launched its annual Tools for Schools drive.

Tools for Schools benefits children of the Sharing & Caring clients within the Valparaiso, Niceville area and east to Choctaw Beach in Walton County. Donations to the drive, financial or actual supplies, come from the community.

“We’re the only organization in the area that does that,” said Sharing & Caring President Jim Rollins. Rollins has volunteered with Sharing and Caring for eight years.

The Tools for Schools program has been an annual event for several years, as Sharing & Caring works directly with each school to determine supply needs.

“We cover 15 schools, encompassing 63 grades and roughly 95 different items,” Rollins said. “Some schools will want Ticonderoga (brand) pencils; others will want yellow only. 

Some schools specify red composition books.
a man holding folders
Sharing N Caring President Jim Rollins shows some of the supplies students will need for the next school year.
“We have a list of basic supplies like notebook paper–wide rule and college rule, Fiskars scissors, crayons, glue sticks,” he continued. “We try to focus on the basic things that we need, that all the schools use.”

Lists of desired items are found on the Sharing & Caring website, and Rollins said he encourages donors to stick with the list to ensure students will use the items. Each school and grade has a specific list of basic supplies.

Donations can take items to Sharing & Caring; stay in your car and call the number posted outside the building. A volunteer will come out to accept donations.

“We don’t want people leaving them outside,” Rollins said. “You put crayons out there in the heat, you end up with one big [crayon].”
Donations can come from individuals, organizations, businesses, and churches. The Elks Lodge, No. 2747, Valparaiso, has donated backpacks for each child.

“We also give each child a $25 gift card to Walmart to help with new clothes or other items they might need to start the year off right. Last year, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church members provided each child with a $25 gift card from the SHOE DEPT. Store,” Rollins said. “It truly is a community effort.

The recipients of the supplies are children of registered Sharing & Caring clients who fall into the lower income/workforce financial categories.
Sharing & Caring uses the United Way’s ALICE determinate–assisted limited, income constrained, employed–precisely calculated for Okaloosa County.

This year, Tools for Schools will benefit about 150 students. Any extra donations get divided among the schools.

“It’s the kids that are more important,” Rollins added.

Sharing & Caring is an all-volunteer organization assisting people within the Valparaiso/Niceville area and east to Choctaw Beach in Walton County.

To see the donation list, visit their website.

To deliver donations, visit Sharing & Caring of Okaloosa County Inc.,

Niceville Center, 104 Bullock Blvd, Niceville. Sharing & Caring business hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon, Fridays.

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