The Hillsborough Education Foundation packaged and donated school supplies to 10,000 students throughout Hillsborough County last month in the SouthShore area.

The Hillsborough Education Foundation (HEF) helped some SouthShore children who needed it most last month. The group, a nonprofit focused on strengthening public education by supporting teachers and empowering students to achieve academic and personal success, donated supplies to more than 10,000 students in Achievement Schools throughout the county.

“This is an unprecedented time in education,” said HEF Media Contact Kendra Oestreich. “COVID-19 concerns are impacting how our students continue to learn, how teachers are providing lessons and how Hillsborough Education Foundation continues to provide supplies and resources to support students who need them most.”

The group closed its Teaching Tools Resource Center, an on-site store at HEF where Hillsborough County Public Schools Title I teachers can shop for supplies for free once a month throughout the school year, due to social distancing concerns, but it found a way to help anyway.

On the week that Hillsborough County students started e-learning, HEF staff began packaging and distributing supplies to 41 Achievement Schools, including Gibsonton, Thompson and Ruskin Elementary Schools and Shields Middle School in the SouthShore area.

“These are some of the highest needs schools in our district,” said Oestreich.

The teachers had the opportunity to hand out the packaged supplies to their students. Schools also had the opportunity to pick up supplies at HEF.

“The need is great in Hillsborough County where two out of three students rely on free or reduced-price lunch at school and they rely on the free supplies we provide; that’s an estimated 145,000 students, and the number will continue to grow with the current economic slowdown,” said Oestreich.

The group has been helping students in Hillsborough County, offering resources and financial support to enrich K-12 educational experiences by providing opportunities for all students, regardless of background or economic status, since 1987.

“Together with our community partners, HEF strategically invests in initiatives that impact teaching quality and increase graduation rates, bolstering a thriving workforce of tomorrow and the sustainable prosperity of Tampa Bay,” said Oestreich.

HEF is asking for the community’s support to help ensure the achievement gap doesn’t grow even wider with students learning from home. For more information about how you can help, visit

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.