Butterfield Bank staff help 500 needy school children
Five hundred needy children will show up on the first day of school with brand new backpacks, rulers and even hand sanitisers, thanks to a $12,000 donation from Butterfield Bank employees.
Butterfield is running its back-to-school drive for the third year in a row, and has found that the need for help with school supplies has grown significantly in the last year due to hard economic times. In the first two drives, schools asked for 300 backpacks filled with essential school supplies for cash-strapped students. This year, they asked for 500.
“Staff raised $6,000 through four themed denim days held throughout the year,” said Edwina Bowen, assistant vice president of marketing and communications, and the chairperson of Butterfield’s social responsibility committee. “Butterfield matched their donation, and AF Smith agreed to give us the school supplies at cost.”
This week a group of staff members gathered together in a boardroom at the bank to pack all 500 school bags with things like notebooks, glue, pens, pencils, pencil cases, key rings and other necessities.
“This year, we have been focusing Butterfield’s charitable giving, and focusing it specifically on the area of human services, things like children, food, basic services,” said Michael Collins, Butterfield’s senior executive vice president. “In the past we would spread our charitable giving around to various sectors including the environment and education, but we figure with everything that is going on with Bermuda and the economy real focus should be on those sectors of the community that need it most human services. The back-to-school drive fits right in that.”
The fundraiser has been one of the most popular things the bank has done over the years, Mr Collins said.
“It is amazing how many families really struggle with some of the basic items that many people take for granted such as backpacks and rulers and compasses,” he said. “A lot of families do struggle. As a bank we see a lot of issues in terms of people’s financial conditions. We see people with mortgages who are struggling. Bermuda is struggling and everyone is trying to make ends meet. Little things like your child going back to school can be overwhelming at times if you don’t have the disposable income to be able to give them what other kids have. We have done this drive for a number of years and it has gone well.”
He thanked AF Smith for their generosity. The bags will be given to students in 14 primary and middle schools. Guidance counsellors at each school chose the children in need based on information from the Department of Social Services.
“At Butterfield, we take seriously our commitment to supporting our community, particularly during challenging economic times,” said Mr Collins. “On behalf of the bank’s senior management team, I’d like to thank the Butterfield employees who organised and supported the back-to-school drive initiative, exceeding last year’s drive by 60 percent.”
Tim Smith, president and chief executive officer of AF Smith said, “We were pleased to be able to help support Butterfield’s back-to-school drive and assist in providing young people in our community with the tools they need to succeed in school.”