light the latern

During this festive time of year, many people are focused on extra things in life.

Unfortunately, many children and teens in Brevard County will go without the most basic necessities. Things such as toothpaste, deodorant, soap, socks and feminine hygiene supplies are products that homeless and low-income families simply cannot afford. The heart-breaking results can be low self-esteem, embarrassment and shame often leading to isolation and feelings of hopelessness.

To help alleviate this issue, Brevard Schools Foundation (BSF), along with The Viera Company and other community partners, will co-host the third annual Light the Lantern from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 at the school board building located at 2700 Judge Fran Jamieson Way in Viera.

The community is asked to rally around this cause and bring donations of hygiene and personal products to this drive-through event. Participants will be treated to a luminary trail adorned with special holiday sparkle as they pull up to the drop-off location.

Suggested items are new packages of soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, body wash and socks. Monetary donations also will be accepted.

All donated items will be distributed to homeless and low-income students through the Supply Zone for Teachers, a service of the Brevard Schools Foundation.

The Supply Zone for Teachers, located in Cocoa, serves the highest poverty schools in Brevard County.

“Far too often, teachers tell me about students who will stay home because their clothes are dirty and they can’t afford deodorant or toothpaste,” said Pam Lyons, the Supply Zone program coordinator. “These kids are so afraid of being teased about how they smell, they’d rather miss school than face their classmates. I even had one teacher tell me about a student who was so excited to receive her very own toothbrush; apparently, she’d been sharing one toothbrush with all her brothers because her family couldn’t afford to buy more.

“Hearing that a student was so thrilled about a toothbrush — something most of us take for granted — really brings into focus the struggles these kids face. That’s why I’m beyond grateful to The Viera Company and our their community partners for supporting this event,” Lyons added.

The Viera Company will supply hundreds of luminaries that will be used to create the lighted path. Other businesses and organizations supplying assistance to this event are The Viera Community Institute and iHeart Media.

For more information on Light the Lantern or how to donate hygiene and personal products, contact Joan Perry at Perry.Joan@BrevardSchools.org or 321- 633-1000, ext. 11430.