During these difficult and always changing times, the all-volunteer HUGS Across the County team continues to provide assistance to thousands of St. Augustine and St. Johns County kids. The team appreciate so many local partners for thinking outside of the box and staying positive, so that together they can best provide support to the youngest neighbors-in-need. There are lots of ongoing programs and exciting news to explore as well as plenty of ways for you to get involved.
Summer Friday Food Program
In response to requests from school counselors and administrators in March, HUGS is partnering with all-volunteer nonprofit Epic Cure to provide much-needed food to thousands of children throughout St. Johns County every Friday from April through July.
The HUGS volunteers and the always-dependable St. Augustine High Jackets Football team load, transport, and unload truckloads of wonderful produce, freshly baked bread, and dry goods for families at Webster Elementary, Crookshank Elementary, Gamble Rogers Middle School, and also to Hartley Elementary.
HUGS is thrilled to partner with the always hard-working team at Epic Cure, the Feeding Northeast Florida partner agency for St. Johns County. They are grateful for incredible financial support from the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida, United Way, the First Coast Relief Fund, the Kenneth and Shirley Walker Charitable Fund, the Mier Family, and the Ponte Vedra Woman’s Club, as well as overwhelming in-kind community donations from the United Way’s drop-off events at The Amp and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall.
Year Round Clothing Program
Managed by Carrie Scruggs, the Clothing Care Package program continues to provide bags filled with outfits, new undies, new socks, new shoes, full size toiletries, and a new reading book to children-in-need who are referred by school counselors and local social service agencies. The whole team appreciates the huge-hearted Persbacker-Wyman Family Foundation for their generous donation to our clothing program, and to the many volunteers who sort, pack, and deliver the clothing bags for sweet local kids.
While HUGS is not accepting clothing donations at this time, they always appreciate donations of brand new undies, new socks, new sneakers and full size toiletries. You can check out their Amazon Wish List link at https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3HSPS09KT5P64?ref_=wl_share
Books for Kids
Research shows that roughly 60 percent of children from underserved communities do not have books to read in their homes. Knowing that so many local children would not have access to their school libraries during the COVID-19 crisis, HUGS provided hundreds of brand new books to Title 1 schools to distribute to children when they visited for grab and go lunch.
They are excited to launch a program this fall that will provide hundreds of new books featuring diverse main characters to classroom libraries so that all children have the opportunity to see themselves in the pages of their books.
Although the program was sadly cut short due to schools closing in March, HUGS is very proud of the work that Sandy Calvin and her team have put into growing the Girls Empowerment program to 100+ great girls at Murray and Sebastian Middle Schools. Sandy is already thinking of creative new ways to provide important life skills information to the girls when schools restart this fall and always welcomes ideas for guest speakers and sponsors.
Exciting New Space
Their ongoing partnership with Epic Cure has allowed HUGS to move into a bright and expansive new warehouse space in St. Augustine at 2745 Industry Center Drive (off SR16). They look forward to welcoming new volunteers from the St. Augustine area and regular volunteers from Ponte Vedra and NW St. Johns County to their new location which will house their clothing and food programs.