Danny Veilleux: Spirit of Gainesville nominee
Published: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:18 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:18 a.m.
Danny has compassionately served underprivileged and disadvantaged kids in Alachua County since 2010 (the summer after his 7th grade year) when Alachua County first instituted its mandatory Uniform Policy. Because he was aware of how many students depended on the school to provide them with free and lunch and breakfast, he knew the added burden of purchasing specific school uniform clothes would be more than many families in this county could handle. Knowing that 1 in 4 kids in this County live below the poverty line, it was clear to him that the luxury of having a fresh supply of school clothes that would last through the school year would be one many kids did not have. He also knew that this would be a re-occurring problem as these kids continued to grow and needed new clothes, or just simply wore out the ones they had.
About Despina Veilleus
Years in Gainesville: 12
So Danny started his Polo Drive Ministry in the summer of 2010. First going door to door in his neighborhood, and then to his church. Over the summer he was able to collect more than 600 shirts and/or pants for these kids. He brought the clothes home, sorted them, folded them and took them to Howard Bishop Middle School where he set up a Uniform Closet for kids who needed school clothes. The school reported more than 100 kids benefited from this closet that very first year. Since then Danny has worked every summer, speaking at his church, asking neighbors, engaging his school and classmates, trying to collect as many shirts as he could for these kids. He has also set up donation locations around town at places like O2B Kids, Splitz, and Quality Cleaners. Since 2010, he spends a good part of every summer trying to spread the word about the needs of our underprivileged kids and how much a simple polo shirt can mean to them. He then collects all the donated shirts, sorts them according to size and gender, and distributes them to schools in the area.
This past summer, Danny started working towards making this ministry an actual non-profit company. He is still waiting for authorization to be considered non-profit, but he has already incorporated his charity, and is known as “Kids Dress 4 Success”. This summer he collected over 900 articles of clothes and nearly $1000 in cash donations. All of the monies received went directly to buying new school clothes for kids that did not have them. With this he was able to provide uniform closets (with nearly 200 polo shirts in each) to Waldo Elementary, Howard Bishop Middle, Gainesville High, and Sydney Lanier. He also provided MycroSchool Charter School with nearly 100 brand new uniform shirts for their students.
Danny has been working diligently on this Polo Drive for the past 4 years. He has given up much of his summer each year asking churches and businesses to allow him to either speak or leave a collection box, or both. He spends many weeks during the summer picking up donations and sorting them to be ready for delivery. He also devotes many of his weekends during the school year shopping for new polos for poor and homeless students who attend the Mycroschool in Gainesville. Danny has also worked with Catholic Charities to help specific families that need help getting school clothes for their children. As an honor student in his junior year at St. Francis High School, as well as Varsity football and baseball player Danny has sacrificed much of what little free time he has to make this project a success. Transitioning from a simple project to a full-blown business has required him to spend a lot of time learning how plan his business, keep track of his inventory, keep organized records, and research the needs in the community so he can meet those needs. His plans for the future include completing all the steps to become a non-profit company so he can truly use all his funds to purchase clothes, and to be able to get new back-to-school clothes for any and all kids who need them. He would like to have uniform closets established in all Alachua County Schools, especially those with large populations of poor and/or homeless students.
Nominated by Despina Veilleus