A few rather large donations to Fellow Islanders Sending Help provided the organization with the opportunity to donate money back into the community through the Beacon of H.O.P.E. Students Achieving Success summer reading program.
"We think it is important to help the other charitable organizations on the island," F.I.S.H. President Dianne Higgins said. "We may never have this opportunity again, but as good stewards of the money, it didn't make sense to just let it sit."
In 2012, those donations put F.I.S.H. in the position of having too much money.
Fellow Islanders Sending Help Treasurer Mary Jo Roane, Students Achieving Success Coordinator Rebecca Rose, Beacon of H.O.P.E. Executive Director Betsy Haesemeyer, Fellow Islanders Sending Help board member Richard Roane and member of Students Achieving Success steering committee Buzzy Phillips. F.I.S.H. provided a $2,500 check to SAS for its summer reading program last week.
"I don't remember ever having this happen before," she said. "In fact, we have been on the other side of this equation. A few years ago we were very short in donations and could not continue to help with food donations. The Food Pantry stepped in and took over when we could not help anyone. So, it was poetic justice this last holiday when we were able to step in and help the Food Pantry."
The donation was approximately 80 percent, or $2,500, of the cost of the summer reading program. The Bobby Holloway Memorial Fund provided the remaining 20 percent, or $700, of the cost for the summer reading program.
"There is no better feeling than to take out the check book and write a check for the kids to read all summer long," Bobby Holloway Memorial Fund Treasurer Elsie Stearns said.
"The summer reading program has far exceeded what we ever had hoped it would accomplish," SAS coordinator Rebecca Rose said. "We are very grateful and thankful for F.I.S.H.'s generosity and commitment to the island."
F.I.S.H. will use the remaining money to buy new wheelchairs and walkers for its lending closet.
Rose said last year was the first year SAS offered the summer reading program, which attracted 15 kids.
"We do keep it small, fun and cozy," she said of the summer reading program, which is a six-week camp.
Rose said they will keep the program to around 15 kids again this year because they have a van that seats 16.
"We need to be able to have all the kids in the van," she said, due to the field trips and library visits the students get to experience.
The summer reading program, which is free of charge, will run from June 3 through July 11 for 2nd-5th grade students. It is held Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., at Pine Island Elementary School.
Since there are limited slots left, Rose encourages parents to call the Beacon to sign their children up for the program. Those who wish to attend can attend for as many weeks as they would like, she said.
There are two important aspects for the children who attend the summer reading program, Rose said.
She said the students, along with their younger siblings, will receive lunch through the elementary school's summer lunch program during the camp. Rose said the little ones will stay and eat in the cafeteria with their parents and the older siblings will eat in the classroom with the other students during the program.
The students in the summer reading program will also participate in the summer backpack program through the Pine Island United Methodist Church. Rose said they receive a sack of groceries every Thursday.
"It's a really fun nutritious brown bag of groceries," she said.
Since there is a window of a few weeks before the school year begins, Rose said they will continue to provide bags of groceries for the students that are enrolled in the summer reading program.
"We will continue to provide them with the summer food bags from the United Methodist Church until school starts," Rose said.
The program is a reading enrichment camp that provides the students with the opportunity to participate in theater, art, music, dance and poetry.
"We want to make literacy fun and exciting for the kids," Rose said, adding that reading should not be something you just sit down and do, but rather something that is a part of your life. "We are enriching their literacy and writing development."
The program will include visits to the library during the weekly programs, as well as guest speakers and presenters.
Rose said they are currently looking for middle and high school students who would like to be a mentor during the summer reading program. She said although they do not have to spend the entire summer volunteering, they do ask that whatever days they sign up for they show up for that shift.
The middle and high schoolers can obtain their community service hours through the program. Rose said those students who volunteer would also receive lunch and a bag of food on Thursdays.