Center Montessori School students donate $500 to help Manatee County homeless

BRADENTON -- A $500 donation will mean the basics for Turning Points: shampoo, conditioner, toiletries and socks.

On Wednesday, third-grade students at the Center Montessori Schools gave the center $500 and took a tour of the facility housed in Bradenton's Bill Galvano One Stop Center, learning about its services for the homeless and those who are at-risk of becoming homeless in Manatee County.

"It's not something that just happens to someone somewhere else," Adell Erozer, the

executive director, told the group of 16 students. "It can happen to any of us."

Each year, the school's third-grade students run a holiday gift shop so they can shop for holiday gifts for their family and friends. The proceeds are then donated, said lead teacher Rachel Reid. In previous years, money has gone to the Red Cross and to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Before their visit, teachers talked to the students about what Turning Points does and how it helps people.

"It helps people who are poor," said 9-year-old Nathan Rupprecht.

It's important to help the poor "so they don't die," said 8-year-old Megan Bray.

The students saw the entrance area, where as many as 200 people line up under a covered area, waiting for the center to open in the morning.

They visited the showers, which are limited to 10 minutes per person, saw the laundry area where 10 articles of clothing can be washed per person per week, and saw a small area where a volunteer will give out haircuts and trim beards for those who need services. The students also visited the cafeteria, which serves lunch daily.

The center also helps between 50 and 70 homeless children each month.

"A lot of people don't realize how important this is," Erozer said. "You take so many things for granted."

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.