‘It feels like Christmas every time’, says principal receiving wish list of school supplies
Youngsters at St George’s Preparatory School were all smiles as volunteers delivered crates of items to cover their teachers’ wish list of classroom supplies.
The helping hand was part of the latest $60,000 giveaway to all 18 public primary schools by Support Public Schools Bermuda, now marking its fifth year in operation.
Gail Smith, principal at the St George’s school, said: “It feels like Christmas every time.
“We can’t wait for SPS – we look forward to seeing what’s coming, and that’s just us as adults, waiting to see what we can disseminate to our classes.
“Teachers are not often beneficiaries in terms of gifts. It’s exciting to receive – it gives us a boost, and we appreciate their steadfastness and commitment.”
As P1 students waited to thank the volunteers delivering to their school, Ms Smith added: “They have a very good pulse on what kids like. I don’t know who advises them. There’s always something new.”
Ms Smith said the contributions were twofold.
The donation programme supplies “basic materials that help for the smooth running of our classrooms – it’s wonderful to have these in abundance”.
She added: “But the second is where this programme shifts, in that it’s specific items, extra supplies that schools do not generally have money for in large amounts, such as games. Games are expensive.
“These products are helpful for creating a really engaging classroom, helpful for kids who learn differently. These are the ones we’re really excited for.
“It’s all the public primary schools, which speaks volumes, and this act of generosity takes so much coordination. These things do not happen overnight.
“Another good thing about it is its longevity. Programmes come and go – it’s hard to keep going – but SPS continues to champion for us.”
Juliana Snelling, founder of the programme and director at Canterbury Law Limited, said the pandemic had hit classrooms hard.
“Public school students are also challenged by the major gap between the financial resources and opportunities available to public versus private schools, even in the good times.
“With the severe economic hardship suffered by many, even before the pandemic, increasing numbers of parents are struggling with the cost of basic school supplies for their children.”
In total since the programme launched in 2018, an array of donors has enabled it to give out more than $450,000 in new school supplies – and an estimated $200,000 in second-hand items such as computers and furniture.
Supplies for students range from rulers and fraction bars to noise-cancelling headphones, chair pockets and zipper homework folders.
Youngsters from the P1 and P4 classes in St George’s also found coveted items such as the latest books, Lego and a Jenga set.
The reinsurance firm Ariel Re came aboard this year with $8,000 towards the wish list for eight public schools.
Carolina Medeiros, an underwriting assistant at the firm who picked out the items for the school, said Ariel was budgeting to contribute annually to SPS.
The latest round of materials, which included math, poetry and phonetics books, science measuring tools and music equipment, also went to Harrington Sound, Francis Patton, Elliot, Northlands, Gilbert Institute, Purvis and Somerset primary schools.
Ms Snelling said not all donations came from the generosity of companies.
“I have kids show up at my office who, instead of birthday gifts, asked for school supplies,” she said. “They have come in loaded up.”
Much of the supplies are purchased by corporate donors: Butterfield has made an annual purchase of $20,000 each year to the programme.
Other supporters this term include the Green family, Argus Insurance, Butterfield & Vallis, Chubb, Lancashire, Enstar Limited, Prime Consultants and Ptix.
The two retail suppliers are AF Smith Ltd and Phoenix Group, who offer the supplies on discount and deliver them free twice a year.
Tim Smith, chief executive at AF Smith, said the company was “honoured to be a partner”.
George Grundmuller, the Phoenix CEO, said the shared support “contributed to classroom success in Bermuda’s public school system”.
Organisations who gave goods in kind this year included Canterbury, the Bermuda Monetary Authority, Mayflower, Liberty Global Group, Lombard Odier Trust (Bermuda) Limited and Moore/Hamilton Trust Company Ltd.
Teachers at West End Primary School said this year’s delivery included “much needed first aid kits for teachers to take outside on duty”.
Their thank-you letter added: “All gifts and supplies have been put to good use.”
Gladstone Thompson, principal at St David’s Primary School, thanked Argus for supplying a new principal’s desk and office chairs.
At Victor Scott Primary School, a physical education teacher said the delivery had been “an awesome act of kindness”.
“It has been a difficult year and we are so grateful for anything that we can use to help with the teaching and learning for our school.
“The donations that you have made show that you care about the development of our young people.”
SPS.bm is not a registered charity, and does not solicit funds from the Government or from public sources.
Supporters of the programme make direct purchases of supplies. The organisation does not receive or handle funds – enabling 100 per cent to be spent on school supplies.