Tampa, FL —- Amid the COVID19 outbreak, Cornerstone Family Ministries (Cornerstone) continues to nurture bodies, develop minds and foster hope as they have for children in the Tampa Bay Area for over 125 years. Nearly 17,000 children within five Tampa Bay counties are helped by the organization each year through the over 150 childcare centers they sponsor on the Florida Department of Health and USDA Child Care Food Program. Children receive three nutritious meals each school day thanks to Cornerstone’s sponsorship. As one of the State of Florida’s largest sponsors of this program, Cornerstone strives to do more. Executive director, Cathy Stone, says it best, “We take a government program, cover it with prayer, and connect centers under our sponsorship to the hearts, hands and feet of a loving community—making it possible for over 5,000,000 meals to be served, thousands of donated books and weekend care packages to be distributed and support and technical assistance to be offered to these small businesses so that they can keep their doors open like we have for over 125 years.”
Since the Coronavirus outbreak, over half of the 150+ childcare centers that Cornerstone sponsors, have temporarily closed and many parents have lost their jobs. Centers that are open, are struggling financially due to low attendance and their staff are at risk without proper personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. As a result, Cornerstone is committed to getting the word out to provide donated resources to the open and closed centers they work with to ensure they are safe and able to continue to help families now and when the pandemic is over.
Through Cornerstone’s Grab-N-Go Nutrition and Literacy Program, parents enrolled at Cornerstone’s participating partner sites can preregister all of their children ages 12 yrs. old or younger to receive 5-days worth of free breakfast, lunch and snacks. Registered families arrive at the center once a week, to receive their bags of nutritious food and books. Given the CDCs recent advisory for 2yr. olds and older to wear face masks, Cornerstone would like to add child size facemasks to each weekly GrabNGo package. They are requesting the support of the community to make cloth masks to be distributed to their sponsored childcare centers in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Pasco counties as soon as possible.
Through the reimbursement Cornerstone receives from the FL Department of Health Child Care Food Program, most of the cost of the meals its sponsored centers will distribute will be covered. However, Cornerstone is seeking the following unmet needs from the community:
- 7,000 child size cloth masks
- 1,000 adult masks for teachers
- Thousands of Large Brown paper or Reusable Shopping Bags
- Diapers (large sizes 3,4,5,6 and pull-ups)
- Baby Wipes
- Sandwich size zip lock bags
- Gently Used Children’s Books
- Coloring Books and Crayons
- Food purveyors in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk and Manatee Counties who will waive purchase limits on items so child care centers can purchase larger quantities of non-perishable GrabNGo food items that meet specific nutrition requirements.
So far, First St. Petersburg United Methodist Women made enough masks for the teachers at Cornerstone’s Rosa Valdez Early Learning Center but about 1,000 more teacher masks are needed for Cornerstone’s sponsored centers that are still open and serving children. A few groups have answered the plea on the organizations Face book page for children’s masks but a huge need still exists. The organization reported that Bay Hope United Methodist Church Westchase, New Hope United Methodist Women, LandOLakes United Methodist Women and a group of Veterans in Carrollwood have all committed to sew up to 100 children masks each in time for Cornerstone’s next GrabNGo distribution at its Rosa Valdez Early Learning Center and Lab School 1802 N Albany Avenue, Tampa, FL 33607 at 4-6pm on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or if you are able to assist with any of these needs. In addition, tax deductible financial contributions to Cornerstone can be made online at www.cornerstonefamilyministries.org or by mail to Cornerstone Family Ministries PO Box 4576, Tampa, FL 33677.
About Cornerstone Family Ministries:
Cornerstone Family Ministries is a faith-based 501c3 organization located in Tampa, FL serving the five county Tampa Bay Region (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco and Manatee Counties) and registered with the State of Florida. The organization has served economically disadvantaged children and their families through services that nourish young bodies, develop young minds and foster hope….one child at a time regardless of race, ethnicity, color or creed for over 125 years. Cornerstone is one of the State of Florida Department of Health’s largest sponsors of the USDA Child Care Food Program. The organization sponsored 161 early learning centers serving 16,800 children in the Tampa Bay Area in 2019. In addition, Cornerstone’s Rosa Valdez Early Childhood Learning Center and Lab School has served as a model early learning center in Tampa, FL providing nationally accredited care and an enriching learning environment for economically disadvantaged children and families in Old West Tampa since 1892. The Rosa Valdez Center also provides a lab school environment for adults to earn their degree in early childhood education. The goal of the Center is to provide support to parents earning and learning their way out of poverty while their children are safe and learning too. For more information and registration details visit, www.CornerstoneFamilyMinistries.org.