Tampa Electric Discovers Won-duffle Way to Help Children in Need

Tampa Electric’s Western Service Area and their duffels to fill.

DuffelsofDignityLogo.jpgWant to duffel the good you can do in the community without double the effort? Tampa Electric’s Western Service Area shows how it’s done.

In May, the team learned of a brand-new program from Hillsborough County called Duffels of Dignity. The idea is simple but crucial: to give children who are homeless, escaping traumatic situations or otherwise in the child protection system a dignified way to store and carry their limited belongings. The program accepts new and gently used duffel bags along with unopened personal care items like toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant; see the full list here.

For the young recipients, who are frequently on the move, duffels replace things like trash bags and help prevent them from losing important things.

Meant to Be?

“I’d been thinking about reaching out and doing some kind of fundraiser when a TV at the office happened to run a story on Bay News 9 at that moment about Duffels of Dignity – it was just a sign,” said Western Service Area Lead Administrative Specialist Shelley Slanec. “So, I contacted Hillsborough County right away and started the fundraiser that day.”

Hillsborough County Administrative Services Coordinator Craig Jewesak, who runs Duffels of Dignity – and who gets donated items to local organizations within seven days or less – got the call.

“TECO’s Western Service team members always work exceptionally well under a deadline and the Duffels of Dignity program was no exception,” he said. “I told Shelly we would be delivering donations to the Children’s Home Network in two weeks. Her team collected, assembled and delivered over 50 duffels with personal care and comfort items in time.” 

DuffelsofDignity2.jpgDignity and generosity, all in a day’s work. From left: Bobby Hook, Ryan Yarcho and Eric Watson.

Pour Your Goodwill into a Program That Needs Us!

“Hillsborough County has the largest population of children in foster care in Florida,” Craig added. “The youth have gone through tremendous amounts of trauma and pain through no fault of their own, but there are many great organizations in our county that work tirelessly to serve our most vulnerable kids. Working with the community, Duffels of Dignity supports non-profit organizations in the county.”

Find details about Duffels of Dignity – an ideal program for anyone looking to make a difference in the community – here, or call 813-264-3807. You can drop off donated items at 3191 Clay Magnum Lane in Tampa or use an Amazon Wish List to have donations delivered directly to the program.

“By providing these children with their very own duffel bag or suitcase, we can offer them a bit of courage and dignity on what is likely the worst day in their entire life,” Craig said.

For children in need in our community, Western Service Area got a handle – two handles, in fact – on how easy it can be to help better days come to life.