Take Stock in Children moves into the New Year with a major scholarship drive underway and has moved its annual dinner from the Fall/Winter holiday season to early March.

Its annual fund drive provides scholarships for good students with financial needs and needs for other support as well. 

Take Stock this year is enjoying fundraising success from a special matching fund which has been made available for scholarships by longtime local supporters. The State of Florida already matches all scholarship gifts and will also match the special local matching funds given to Take Stock this year. So, a new or “There is just no other opportunity to help kids that gets this bang for the buck,” said Take Stock Chairman Bob Henderson.

The annual Light Up A Life dinner on March 2 explicitly raises funds to support the agencies’ operational expenses for professional counseling, mentor training and overall management. The dinner will be held at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. an will include a silent auction.
Take Stock hopes to raise more than $70,000 from the event in ticket sales ($150 per seat) and special sponsors.

The program will include Will Howery’s chamber music group and County Treasurer John Drew will be master of ceremonies and auctioneer for a brief live auction. Clinton Green, a musician and former Take Stock scholar, will play keyboard, including songs from his recent children’s CD. He will also speak on his Take Stock experience.

If you are interested in purchasing tickets for the Light Up a Light event, please visit the main page of the TSIC website (special events) at www.takestocknassau.org, or call their Main Office at (904) 548-4464. 

Take Stock brings scholarship recipients into the program in 7th-thru-9th grades and provides each with a volunteer mentor to work with them through their local school career to graduation. They are recommended to the program by school teachers and administrative personnel.  

This year there are 136 Nassau County scholarship students working their way toward college. All have the advantage of a local volunteer mentor to stand with them against all challenges as they work through high school. Another 135 Nassau youngsters have completed high school and now are using their scholarships at colleges and universities.

Since it’s inception in 1997, Take Stock has awarded more than 500 scholarships.
Good grades and good behavior are demanded of Take Stock scholars. Many have a variety of family issues, beyond financial issues. Some have sick or unemployed parents. Many are from one-parent households. Most parents have not had the opportunity to attend college.

“When you fully understand the challenges many of these kids face, it’s amazing that we have achieved a 100% high school graduation rate and that 91% of our students go on to  college,” said Chairman Henderson.

“The benefits of a Take Stock scholarship is felt by our students almost immediately when they are announced,” said TSIC Executive Director Andrea Cummings. 

“Students who receive these scholarships tend to reject negative influences at school and embrace other students who display a more positive outlook towards their academic future (i.e., college-bound students),” said Dr. Cummings.  

Cherry Gallagher, an early-on volunteer and board chairperson, recalls a personal experience that showed the beneficial and immediate impact on youngsters. “I was living in Jacksonville and working as a family therapist. I was working with a 12-year-old girl in 7th grade”, Mrs. Gallagher said. “The family had many serious issues, including physical abuse and substance abuse. The child was lost. She was staying home to care for her younger siblings and missing school days. A judge ordered family counseling. The family did not want to come to counseling, most of all the silent, frightened, depressed adolescent.” At a later appointment, Mrs. Gallagher said there was a startling transformation. The girl walked in, by herself, with head held high and announced that she was going to work hard, graduate high school and go to college. There was light in her eyes. “She told me she had just been awarded a college scholarship by Take Stock in Children and had been assigned a husband-and-wife mentoring team,” Mrs. Gallagher said. This motivated Mrs. Gallagher to research Take Stock and when she and husband Dan moved to Amelia, they both got heavily involved in the program.

Oh, yes… the transformed young lady accomplished precisely the things she had promised Mrs. Gallagher. She successfully finished high school went off to college.