Organization dressing Hillsborough County students for 20 years

A Hillsborough County organization is celebrating 20 years providing clothing and other essential items to students.

Oasis Opportunities in Tampa lets kids and families pick out shoes, bags, and clothes giving them the confidence they need to succeed.

Sarah Etti is a social worker at Lockhart Elementary School. She is so thankful for Oasis. They provide free clothing and other essential items for students.

"I can't even imagine not having the organization being able to shop for parents, getting things for our kids, important things they need like underwear, deodorant, essentials, even down to being able to get a laundry detergent at times for our families is vital," she said.

The organization was started 20 years ago and serves all 250 Hillsborough County public schools. 

"We currently help over 11,000 students a year," said Dawn Schulman, Oasis Opportunities Executive Director. "So if you just multiply that by a little less than 20 years, we have helped thousands of students."  

It's help that school social workers have played a big part in.

 "Students work with their social worker. Families work with social workers or teachers, refer their students to the social workers. Then the social worker can come to one of our sites. Pick out two or more outfits, tennis shoes, hygiene items, laundry detergent, alarm clocks, anything that those students need to overcome barriers to consistent school attendance," Schulman added. 

The effort is definitely needed in schools. 

"In our school, we have about one to average about 400 students. Over 90% of our kids are free, reduced lunch. I would say maybe half fifty percent of that. So over two hundred kids. So our needs were one of the more high needs schools. So over, I would say, about two hundred kids so far," Etti explained.

"We think it's really important to support our students in the classroom because they're going to be our future leaders in the Tampa Bay community. And so we want to do everything we can to make sure that they have what they need to learn in the classroom," Schulman said. 

Dawn can be contacted at dawn.schulman@oasisopportunities.org or (813) 699-9131.