• Summer of Dreams kicks off for homeless students


    You can help homeless students this summer!

    When school lets out for the summer, fewer critical resources are available for Central Florida’s growing population of homeless children.

    To fill this need, Fifth Third Bank is once again spearheading Summer of Dreams, a free, 10-week program it launched in 2011 that provides homeless students with meals, academic enrichment, mentoring and school supplies as well as financial counseling for parents and students.

    In Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties, more than 11,000 children (up from 9,000 last year) are considered homeless. Nearly 1,500 homeless students in the tri-county area participated in Summer of Dreams in 2013, and the goal is to see that number increase this year.

    “For just $186 per child or $5,000 or an entire classroom you can sponsor students to attend Summer of Dreams and allow their families to receive desperately need resources for the entire 10 weeks of summer break,” said Karen Dee, president of the Florida and Mid-South Regions for Fifth Third Bank. “To date, we’ve never had to turn away a child due to lack of funding. I’m challenging Central Florida to continue to help support these students.”

    Avery Odums, a rising seventh-grade honor-roll student at Memorial Middle School in southwest Orlando, is excited about participating in Summer of Dreams for the first time. Last year, a fire burned down his grandparents’ apartment, and they lost everything. Now he lives in another family’s home with his grandparents, older sister and several cousins. 

    “Summer of Dreams will be a big help for my family,” said Avery, who wants to be a criminal prosecutor. “They’ve got a cool camp, and my grandparents won’t have to worry about me while they’re at work. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

    Donations from the public and private sectors fund Fifth Third Bank’s Summer of Dreams. Community partners include Orlando After-School All-Stars, Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank, and A Gift for Teaching. Along with Fifth Third, Siemens and the city of Orlando have again stepped up to lend financial support. But,

    Financial contributions can be dropped off at any Fifth Third Bank location in Central Florida. Checks can also be made payable to After-School All-Stars (with “Summer of Dreams” noted in the memo line) and mailed to After-School All-Stars at 400 S. Orange Ave. Orlando, Fla. 32801

    To learn more about sponsorship opportunities or how to get involved, visit www.TheSummerofDreams.com

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