As schools open for a new school year, they’ll also start encountering student poverty and homelessness. At last count — the 2013/2014 school year — the number of homeless students had risen to more than 71,000 in the state’s public schools. For many of these children, a brand new school uniform may be out of reach, though school officials say it makes a big impact on their attitude. One longtime charity in Lakeland is quietly helping to fill that need.
Lady Wolverton started the Needlework Guild in England in 1882, when she asked her friends to knit clothes for orphans of a Welsh mining disaster. Reports of the group’s good works filtered back to the States, and a few years later, an American woman in Philadelphia reproduced the Needlework Guild there.
There are only two branches in Florida, both in Polk County. One is in Bartow, and the Lakeland branch — founded in 1935 — is celebrating its 80th anniversary. Many of the volunteers have mothers or grandmothers who raised money for Needlework Guild.