A volunteer appreciation day brunch was held at Pine Island Elementary School Thursday morning to thank everyone who donates their time to help the students.
The media center was full of individuals and organizations that have spent time helping the students in a variety of capacities in the last few weeks to couple of years. Each volunteer had the opportunity to stand up and share how they provide a helping hand at the school, along with a favorite story of how the students impacted their lives on a particular day.
Once everyone had the opportunity to speak, Pine Island Elementary School Principal Rob Mazzoli thanked Volunteer Coordinator Pam Anderson for all of her dedication. He said she has given so much dedication, commitment and love into the school throughout the many years she has worked at Pine Island Elementary School.
Pine Island Elementary School Volunteer Coordinator Pam Anderson is retiring.
After 34 years of working for the Lee County School District, 31 of which was spent at Pine Island Elementary School, Anderson is retiring.
"Tuesday (Feb. 19) is her last day," Mazzoli told the crowd.
He said although it will be hard to fill her shoes, they will be able to move forward because of the foundation for the volunteer program she has provided.
Mazzoli spent time thanking the volunteers who attended the brunch Thursday morning.
"What you all do is the reason we are an A school for 14 years," he said while looking around the room.
He highlighted the backpack program that provides 120 students with food for the weekend each week, the Students Achieving Success program that started off with only five students, as well as the other dedicated volunteers who spend time within the classroom helping the students and teachers.
"Our kids need you," Mazzoli said, because the teachers have a lot of demands due to the changes occurring within education. "Our children come first, you make that commitment that children come first."
Anderson said volunteers spend an average of 3,000 hours a year at Pine Island Elementary School. She said in order to obtain the Golden School Award, with 200 students there has to be at least 400 volunteer hours.
"We go well over that 400 goal," Anderson said.
Pine Island Elementary School normally has about 70 volunteers every year, which ranges from parents, grandparents and retirees, as well as members of Pine Island organizations.
Anderson said some volunteers only dedicate their time during special events, while others spend time helping students of other languages, reading, helping with computers, fund-raising, mathematics or writing programs. She said volunteers also help with filing, provide a helping hand in the cafeteria, as well as teaching the students how to use a musical instrument and after school activities like the dance club, acting club and track club.
The teachers also provide volunteer hours after their working day is over.
"The world does not know how much teachers volunteer," Anderson said after they work a 10-hour day.
Those hours are spent by tutoring their students for free, supporting clubs, as well as fund-raising events like the Spring Festival.
Anderson said volunteers donate their time be-cause of the sense of community Pine Island Elementary School provides.