It all began 14 years ago, with a phone call. Judy Alexander, CEO of the local nonprofit Every Child Inc., received a call from a friend who worked at Booker Elementary, who was panicked that some of the children would not have backpacks and proper school supplies for the new school year.
Alexander reached out to the community and, in just a few months, she raised enough money to buy backpacks and school supplies for all the students living in low-income housing.
“The backpacks really got Every Child Inc. started,” she says. “Children who start off the school year without backpacks and school supplies are starting out immediately at a disadvantage, and that’s not right. What every parent wants for their child, we should want for all children. I think everyone should have the same opportunities.”
Today, Alexander continues to run the nonprofit organization to meet the need she sees among local children. She organizes backpack drives, holiday parties, food drives and the annual Cinderella and Her Prince project, which raises money for prom dresses and tuxedo rentals for underprivileged students. She hopes to continue to increase awareness of the poverty that exists in Sarasota.
“The need here is becoming more and more evident,” says Alexander. “The community is known for its arts, and there was this assumption for many years that because it’s a relatively wealthy community, every child had all his needs met. We’re learning more and more that that’s not the case.”
One of her favorite components of the nonprofit involves providing children with free books, which she incorporates into nearly every activity. As one of the smaller nonprofit organizations in Sarasota, she says the workload can be a lot, but seeing the children’s reactions makes it worthwhile.
“It’s just helping to meet the need,” she says. “And as long as it still exists and the support keeps coming, I’ll continue to do it. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a wonderful feeling.”
BY THE NUMBERS
6 — Number of projects funded through Gulf Coast Gives
14 — Number of years as a nonprofit
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