As summer comes to an end and the school year looms at the start of fall, families participate in the annual rush of school supply shopping. This is an exciting push for many families, but for others, it represents a stressful financial burden that could break the budget of underprivileged families.

During August, the Mandy Van Brunt School Supply Drive works to relieve this burden by collecting school supplies and financial donations and giving them to local Title I schools. They are looking for community donations of basic school supplies, which can be found on the supply drive’s Amazon Wish List.

The late Mandy Van Brunt, a former teacher at Frost Elementary School, had a passion for helping these underprivileged families and students. This passion and dedication to helping her students was evident in the care she gave to the young individuals over her 15-year career before her death in 2014.

“Mandy was a wonderful teacher who dedicated her career to helping under privileged students and would donate her own money to buy supplies for kids in need,” said Operation Lotus founder Melanie Brockmeier-Jordy.

After she passed, Brockmeier-Jordy started an annual school supply drive through Operation Lotus in Van Brunt’s name to honor her dedication to the underprivileged families of Hillsborough County.

“Every year we give to Frost Elementary, as that is where [Van Brunt] last taught before she died,” said Brockmeier-Jordy. “Then, depending on how many supplies we receive, Mandy’s family and late husband choose other local Title I schools who are in need.”

Brockmeier-Jordy founded Operation Lotus, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, following the tragic death of her husband in 2012. With her team of nine board members, Brockmeier-Jordy works to restore hope in the lives of families facing tragedy through the positive impact Operation Lotus has on the community.

Supplies can be donated to drop-off sites at FishHawk Fellowship Church, Bell Creek Academy, Ashley Furniture, and Motion ChiroTherapy. Monetary donations can be sent via check, cash, Venmo, PayPal or Cash App to Operation Lotus with ‘school supply drive’ in the memo line.

For more information on Operation Lotus, visit or go to the Facebook page @operationlotus.

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.