FORT MYERS, Fla. (Aug. 3, 2021) – The Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, distributed backpacks stuffed with school supplies to more than 200 Southwest Florida students as the new school year begins.

The Foundation’s second annual “Back to School with the Blue” backpack giveaway, in partnership with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, was held July 31 at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Community Outreach Center at Edison Mall in Fort Myers. Children living in foster care or temporary homes were given new backpacks filled with folders, notebooks, writing utensils, art supplies and $100 Old Navy gift cards to purchase school uniforms or clothing.

The event was funded by the Shadow Wood Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit that supports programs improving the lives of Southwest Florida residents in need.

“Foster families and those providing temporary shelter for students in the child welfare system do not always have the financial resources to afford new school supplies every year,” said Jessica Stanfield, the foundation’s executive director. “Thanks to the generosity of our community partners, more than 200 students are now on the path to success and will start the school year ready for the challenges that await.”

At “Back to School with the Blue,” students also were encouraged to write notes of appreciation to their Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Advocates, which are court-approved volunteer child advocates who serve as the voice for abused, neglected and abandoned children in Southwest Florida.

About 170 children received their backpacks during the event, and volunteers delivered 40 additional backpacks to local students unable to attend “Back to School with the Blue.” One aspiring law enforcement officer was even presented with a badge and an honorary title of Sheriff for the Day.

Lee County Sheriff's Lt. Alan Canfield presents stickers to students

“As she left, she had a big smile on her face, which is what this event is all about,” said Eric Bivens, a foundation board member and event chairman.

The Guardian ad Litem Foundation recruits, trains and supports volunteer child advocates for youth in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties as they navigate the judicial, education and child welfare systems. The foundation also provides financial assistance to help meet a child’s basic and developmental needs, including the Children’s Needs Program that provides “extras” like birthday parties, tutoring, summer camp programs, movie tickets and registration fees for clubs and sports.
For more information about the Guardian ad Litem Foundation, please visit VoicesForKids.org or call 239-533-1435.

About Guardian ad Litem Foundation

Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, was established in 1984 and is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports Guardian ad Litem programs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation, a United Way Partner Agency, has a mission of ensuring that every abused, neglected or abandoned youth in Southwest Florida has a voice as they navigate the judicial, education and child welfare system. The Foundation raises funds that help meet a child’s health, educational and social needs, as well as provide support for highly trained volunteer advocates who represent the best interests of a child until a safe, permanent placement is established. For additional information, visit VoicesForKids.org or call 239-533-1435.