The Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring has remained a staunch supporter of Layla’s House since it was founded in 2012. For the past two years, the Foundation has gathered and donated books for the children and families Layla’s House serves. Team FMC volunteer, Tonya Higginbotham, led this effort.
Team FMC is a group of Florida Medical Clinic employees and community volunteers who support a local 501c3 community agency. The staff from FMC selects an agency they wish to support with their time and talents, and the Foundation assists them in their fundraising efforts. Tonya said she appreciated the support of the Foundation in helping to collect books and organize the event. With help from Team FMC, and a group of generous USF students who collected hundreds of books, the Foundation was able to donate more than 2,000 children’s books.
“While Layla’s House primarily serves children from infants through age five, our volunteers donated books for older children as well. We wanted to involve the whole family in this event and not leave out any older siblings,” Tonya said.
The Power to Read
Tonya said the book drive was a way to encourage the children served by Layla’s House to continue to read throughout the summer, so when they get back to school, they are ready. “When my children were younger they loved book fairs. Many of these kids might not be able to afford to purchase books at a book fair, but I wanted those kids to experience that same excitement and joy.”
Tonya said the project was also an opportunity to do something to encourage Layla’s father, Dr. Tawfik Chami. After Layla lost her battle with leukemia at the age of sixteen, Dr. Chami and his wife, Maria, worked with the Foundation and other local groups to create a lasting legacy of hope, inspiration and love in Layla’s name.
“I work in the GI office with Dr. Chami, so this is a personal thing for all of us in the office. We all wanted to do something for him as well as something that would benefit the families at Layla’s House.”
Tonya and a team of about fifteen Foundation volunteers delivered the books and helped Layla’s House volunteers set up a Book Fair on the lawn outside. When they saw the setup, local kids flocked to Layla’s House to pick out a new favorite book for some fun and challenging summer reading.
One seven-year-old book recipient made the comment, “Thank you for the books! I want to read this summer to jump start my brain for school.”
“The staff of Layla’s House is just ecstatic that we are able to do something like this for them. The book drive brings in a lot of people from the community who may not be aware of the services Layla’s House offers,” Tonya said.
As an incentive to donate, several Florida Medical Clinic departments competed to see who could donate the most books. The Central Business Office, which donated more than 900 books, was treated to an ice cream party courtesy of Dr. Mark Eisner.
Thank you to everyone who organized, volunteered and donated to help make this event a success. You have made it possible for the Foundation to encourage hearts, strengthen minds and change lives in our community.
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