Seminole schools collecting relief supplies for Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico & islanders relocating to greater Sanford-Lake Mary and other areas of the county

Headline Surfer video / photos by Henry Frederick / Catch the sights and sounds of adult and student volunteers from the Seminiole County Schools supplies for Puerto Rico.
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LAKE MARY, Fla. -- Some two dozen students, teachers and staffers joined Seminole County School Board Chairwoman Amy Lockhart in receiving, sorting and packing disaster relief supplies for Puerto Rico brought in by countless citizens last Friday and Saturday in a large bay on Rinehart Road.

Most of the items were loaded into three largest U-Haul trucks and transported by plane Tuesday from Orlando-Sanford International Airport to San Juan. The equivalent of a truckload remained behind for the expected arrival of several thousand Puerto Rican families in Central Florida over the next few weeks and months, said Lockhart as did officials from other school districts along the I-4 corridor, including Osceola, Orange and Volusia counties.

Seminole County Schools will continue accepting relief aid items over the next week through Friday the 13th, which Lockhart sees as a blessing rather than a curse for those who are superstitious. "Every day that we receive items that are needed for the families who will be starting their lives over is a blessing," Lockhart said as this was planned out by Seminiole County Schools Superintendent Walt Griffin with she and her colleagues at a Sept. 23 workshop before the regular board meeting. 

In fact, Seminole County by that point was already finalizing its plans in assisting families relocating from hurricane-affected areas of Puerto Rico. Chief among them is waiving school records for 30 days so students won't miss any more time than they already have because of Hurricane Maria. Many of the Puerto Rican families are expected to stay with relatives for the time being. Free hot lunches and job referral services for the parents and older children will be offered, too. 

Students at Seminole Scghools pack supplies to send to Puerto Rico / Headline SurferSeminole County Schools will continue accepting relief aid items over the next week

Items still needed: Flash lights, solar power chargers, water filters and boxes. Also, school supplies are needed for incoming students from Puerto Rico: Notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, pencil cases, loose-leaf paper, crayons, highlighters, backpacks and markers. 
Donations will continue to be accepted through Oct. 13, at the SCPS Pre K Building/ESOL Family Connection Center, 239 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary

Other Central Florida school districts have since devised similar plans.

"Families will not be turned away," Volusia School district spokeswoman Nancy Kriz told Headline Surfer in an email exchange. "Students will be quickly enrolled so they can begin attending school right away. Necessary documentation, such as medical and immunization records, will be waived for 30 days. Students will be immediately eligible for services such as free meals, transportation and school supplies. Every effort will be made to help these families feel welcome and safe.

Likewise, Orange County Public School officials have said they, too, stand ready to help families from Puerto Rico looking to escape the devastation on the island. 

"Should we receive students and families from Puerto Rico, we will assist them in making the transition as smoothly as possible," district spokeswoman Lorena Hitchcock said in a prepared statement sent out to Central Florida media outlets.

Seminole School District Student Enrollment for Puerto Rico Families: For those families needing to enroll a student arriving from Puerto Rico, each zone school will assist with the registration process. For more information please contact the Seminole County Public School’s Puerto Rico Strong Family Hotline at 407.320.9413.
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories narly eveenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in Wst Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.