By Jennifer Silverstein
Pottery Patch Employees Gear Up for Sixth Annual School Supply DriveThe Pottery Patch, a paint your own pottery studio in Valrico, is sponsoring its annual school supply drive, benefiting the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) in Brandon. Needed supplies are pencils, paper, binders, crayons, backpacks and even shoes. The supplies will be delivered to ECHO for distribution to families in need. This is The Pottery Patch’s sixth year hosting this drive, and each year, the community is more generous than ever. Since 2004, more than 5,000 school supply items were donated to ECHO. It is known that just starting the school year off with the proper supplies not only gives a child the extra confidence but gives them the tools to start the school year off on the right foot. To thank the community for its generosity, The Pottery Patch is offering those who donate a way to earn Pottery Bucks along the way. For items donated, you will receive some bucks to spend at The Pottery Patch (up to $5 per person/$10 per family) in the month of September. Although school begins Tuesday, August 24, the school supply drive ends Sunday, September 5. However, the sooner the supplies reach The Pottery Patch, the sooner they will make a difference in a child’s life.The Pottery Patch has been a creative outlet for area residents since 2002. The studio is located at 2551 S.R. 60 E. in Valrico. For more information, please visit www.potterypatchstudio.com or contact the studio at 643-0014.Two Local Businesses Team Up to Collect School SuppliesHillsboro Bank and Brandon Chiropractic Associates are teaming up in the month of August to collect school supplies for the Stuff the Bus supply drive. The supply drive supports the students in need in Hillsborough County. Did you know that approximately half of the 190,000-plus students in Hillsborough County Public Schools cannot afford to buy the supplies they will need for the start of school on Tuesday, August 24? The six items that are most needed are paper (lined or unlined), composition books, scissors, pencils, crayons and glue.Hillsboro Bank will collect donations at its Valrico office, located at 1016 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico, and their Plant City office, located at 509 W. Alexander St. If you have further questions or need directions, please call 657-8989.From Monday – Tuesday, August 16-31, Brandon Chiropractic Associates will be offering new patient services (a $250 value) free in exchange for donated school supplies. On Tuesday, August 17, existing patients who donate a bag of school supplies will receive a free adjustment. Please call 689-1883 for more details and appointments.For more information, please visit www.educationfoundation.com/TeachingTools/SupplyDrives. Bay Area Businesses Stuff the Bus for Our Students The Hillsborough Education Foundation is now hosting the 2010 Stuff the Bus campaign, gathering community support to help continue to stock the “Supply Store” shelves.From now through Wednesday, September 1, the campaign will enlist the help of Bay area businesses and organizations to collect supplies to benefit the Teaching Tools for Hillsborough Schools program. The partnering groups host a supply drive at their place of business and serve as drop-off locations for the community, encouraging employees and customers to bring in extra supplies to donate to the program.More than half of the 190,000 students in Hillsborough County Public Schools cannot afford the supplies they need to succeed in the classroom. Basics such as paper, scissors, pencils, crayons and glue are not easy for these students to come by. Teaching Tools for Hillsborough Schools works year-round to remedy this issue by providing these supplies, and many more, to teachers in the district’s most economically disadvantaged schools and education sites, free of cost. Every year, more than 1,800 teachers and 50,000 students benefit from the support of this program. For more information on the 2010 Stuff the Bus campaign and Teaching Tools for Hillsborough Schools, visit www.educationfoundation.com.ECHO Collection Aids More Than 300 FamiliesThe Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) is hoping to provide 300 children, whose families are experiencing a financial hardship, with the tools they need to succeed in the upcoming school year. A specific need for many of these children are new shoes and school supplies. Quality used children’s shoes are not readily available, nor are they the best solution for the problem. While both are basic necessities, they often are too expensive for needy families. By providing new shoes and school supplies for children, their self-esteem is enhanced and the start of school is made a more pleasant event. Families will be registered through August at ECHO. Each childwill receive new socks, underwear, a $15 shoe voucher for Payless Shoe Source and a backpack filled with grade-appropriate school supplies On Friday, August 13, ECHO will have its own “Stuff the Bus” from 7-9 a.m. Donations can also be dropped off on-site at 507 N. Parsons Ave. in Brandon Monday- Friday, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. A box will also be available for donations at Studio Eyes, located at 3466 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Valrico within the Steinmart Plaza. The giveaway will take place on Saturday, August 14, from 9:30 -11:30 a.m.For more information, please call 685-0935 or visit http://echofl.org.