GAINESVILLE - When residents of the retirement community Village at Deaton Creek heard that students at Lyman Hall Elementary School were likely to start school without the supplies they needed, they went shopping for the kids. They wound up with $1500 worth of school supplies and another $1000 in cash donations.
It all started when Lois Myers, principal of the elementary school, was telling her neighbors at Deaton Creek about her new job. While she is a long-time educator, Myers is a first-year principal for Lyman Hall.
She said of the 750 students at the school, almost all qualify for the federal free or reduced fee meal program.
"The parents for these children were really struggling to provide supplies for the children to start school," said Myers.
Once she mentioned the dilemma to some neighbors at a community picnic, that's when the wheels started turning. About a dozen residents went to work collecting school supplies.
"We had about 60 bookbags that were completely filled with all the supplies that child would need for the entire year, 40 more empty bookbags for children that didn't have bookbags, and then five or six hundred dollars worth of supplies for kids who had their bookbags, but didn't have all of their supplies," commented Myers.
She said the students and parents were thrilled. And, the residents of Deaton Creek were ready to do more.
Some 32 families at the retirement community have joined a new club "Friends of Lyman Hall." They have plans to read to students, assist teachers in classrooms and even start a pet therapy program for special education students.
"The thing that has touched my heart the most is that none of the folks in that community have children here or grandchildren here," said Myers. "I've been in education for 35 years, and I've never seen anything like it."