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Businesses helping students benefits whole community

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image Above, a committee that gets local businesses to help area schools gathered medical supplies and delivered them May 31 to students in the EMT and Certified Nursing programs at the South County Career Center. Photo Penny Fletcher

Most needed were the 40-to-50 sets of scrubs and lab coats because just like in the world of work, students are not permitted in class unless they’re dressed for the job.


Natalia Diaz and Sherrell Bennett of South Bay Hospital gathered hospital scrubs, lab coats and patient gowns.

Mike Langjahr from Sun City Center Funeral Home donated around 1,000 pairs of non-latex surgical gloves.

It was all part of a project of the Educational Partnership Committee of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce’s effort to enlist businesses to help area students.

Earlier in the spring the committee hosted a “Meet and Greet” for teachers and school staff and had them submit “wish lists” of things businesses could help them with that would further student’s education.

“We got so many requests we’re going to spend quite a bit of time this summer prioritizing and categorizing them,” said Committee Chairwoman Carrie Elwell, of Kids R Kids SouthShore in Gibsonton.    

As a result of the project, a load of medical supplies was delivered May 31 to the EMT and Certified Nursing programs at the South County Career Center by Bennett, her intern Jenna Ksaibati, and Charlotte Clark of American Momentum Bank of Apollo Beach and Sun City Center.

“Charlotte took this project and ran with it,” said Elwell. “She did the lion’s share of the work.”

Melissa Sawyer, assistant principal at the career center said the items would make a huge difference to students. Items still needed are all different sizes and strengths of medical tape, a scale like the kind used in medical offices, stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and empty oxygen tanks.

“When the bank did its drive, many of our customers brought in supplies and hospital gowns,” said Clark.

Almost 50 pairs of scrubs and lab coats were donated by the hospital, and about 1,000 pairs of non-latex gloves by Langjahr.

“We donated two cases,” he said. “That’s about 1,000 pairs. They had to be non-latex in case someone had a latex allergy.”

Langjahr said he was happy to participate.

“We believe in doing whatever we can to supply educators with whatever they need to help the students reach their goals so they can become productive members of society,” he added.

Anyone who wants to donate medical supplies is still welcome to call Diaz at (813) 634-0496.

Now that the committee has raised community awareness about the need for medical supplies for these classes, it is busy working on its next two projects: the gathering of school supplies and backpacks for students who will need them to return to school in August and a Back to School Health Fair to be held before school starts back up.

“We hope to get doctors and others in the medical profession to help us pro bono,” Clark said. “Businesses and individuals can help educators in many ways.”

People who want to find out about the “educational business project,” or just learn more about the committee may call the South Shore Chamber of Commerce at (813) 645-1366.

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