The St. Peter Claver Catholic School in downtown Tampa is getting a makeover thanks to employees of Lightning and other volunteers. Approximately 150 employees of the company joined forces with Majestic Athletic, United Way Suncoast, and students from the University of South Florida’s Sports and Entertainment department to create a more updated and inviting atmosphere in the school for students, faculty, and parents.
With so many people working, the once old and dingy hallway received a fresh coat of yellow paint that is bright and cheerful. As stated by Sister Maria Goretti Babatunde who has been the school’s principal for the past seven years, St. Peter Claver has not been given this type of attention in a very long time.
The school is more than 120 years old so TLC is highly needed. Currently, students from preschool through eighth grade attend, most coming from low income families who deal with major challenges at home on a daily basis. Since a large number of the students attend via a scholarship, the school has been forced to find creative ways to pay the almost $400,000 it costs annually to operate.
Harold Jackson, a 1966 graduate of St. Peter Claver and current member of the Advisory Board explained that the school is not just about surviving but thriving. The support provided by the employees of Lightning and the other volunteers is what helps everyone stay focused to ensure children of the community get a good education in a safe school.
Even though the outside temperature has been hot and humid, the volunteers have not been deterred from achieving the goal. In addition to transforming the hallways, kitchen appliances were cleaned, faded and chipped picnic tables repainted, a mural was drawn inside one of the restrooms, and the employees created a small garden area outdoors.
During the transformation period, the students of St. Peter Claver are staying at the Boys & Girls Club located just behind the school. Even there, additional volunteers have been spending quality time watching movies and reading books with the younger kids and playing games in the gym with the older ones.`
Around noon yesterday, close to 100 pizzas were donated and delivered to St. Peter Claver from Little Caesars for students and volunteers to enjoy. Another company called ProShed securely disposed of all unwanted documents. Following lunch, students, teachers, and volunteers faced off in a fun game of basketball.
In a statement from Kasey Smith, senior director of community relations for Lightning, she expressed the importance of the company leading by example and being inspiring to others. She went on to remind people that whether actions within the community are big or small, they matter. If everyone would step in to help, a lot more could be accomplished.