UF groups send supplies to schools

Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 31, 2008 at 11:42 p.m.

No pencil. No notes. No progress.

This is what some school children throughout the Caribbean deal with on an everyday basis.

Caribbean Gator Aid, a new student-run organization at the University of Florida, has a goal to supply school-aged children in the Caribbean with the school supplies they lack.

The organization, which was officially established by the UF's Center for Student Involvement in mid-January, is targeting six Caribbean countries.

By aiding young children, UF students will help their families become self-sufficient and better their communities, said David Rowe, the group's treasurer.

"There are groups all over campus aiding in supplies to places like Africa and other underprivileged areas of the world," Rowe said. "Many people overlook the Caribbean as an area that needs assistance."

President Jessica Donawa said she started the organization in December because she wanted to make a change.

"It was important for me to be a part of something cultural but wasn't completely social like the other Caribbean groups on campus," Donawa said.

Donawa, of Jamaican and Trinidadian descent, said the group wants to collect money to buy basic school supplies for elementary school children. Simple necessities such as pencils, paper and backpacks are the main items needed. The organization is now focusing on Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Grenada and Antigua.

Donawa, 20, said many of people see Jamaica and other Caribbean islands as vacation spots but do not see the poverty.

"People spend thousands of dollars to luxuriate at these resorts, not realizing that half of the people who are serving them have children going to school without simple things like a pencil," she said.

The organization hosts events with other student groups to build a membership base, Donawa said. She encourages anyone interested in the organization to join the Facebook group Caribbean Gator Aid.

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