Toddlers and Toiletries – Local Preschool Collects for the Homeless

By Beverly Perkins

It’s never too early to start teaching children about giving to others, especially to those less fortunate. The message is one the resonates with local preschool owner Vanessa Rodriguez and school parent Sara Lunn. Together the ambitious duo decided to help the homeless before Thanksgiving at the Core Learning Center. The project was a huge success, and such a rewarding experience that they will continue collecting year-round.

The drive was inspired when Lunn wanted to donate some gently used toddler items to the Broward Outreach Center/Hollywood Campus, located at 2056 Scott Street. However, she found out that although any donation is appreciated, the center is in dire need of toiletry/personal care items. Most individuals average a 54-day stay at the shelter, and these daily grooming necessities are always needed more than clothing or toys. Lunn immediately was touched and wanted to help. She shared her findings with Rodriguez and then created the “Rainbow of Hope Project”.

The goal was to assemble 200 reusable tote bags filled with 12 full-size personal hygiene items such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine care products, and such. Parents, students, and corporate sponsors did not hesitate to get involved. Children proudly deposited their donations in a collection box upon school drop-off, and the efforts were astonishing.

“We were so ecstatic when the donations started pouring in. We could not be more grateful to our sponsors, staff, and parents for helping us reach our goal of 200 bags,” said Rodriguez. 

Core Learning Center parent volunteers came to the preschool on a Friday night to assemble the bags. Tables were piled high with all the generous donations. The daycare mommies dropped items in each bag assembly line-style, and were ecstatic to find out they exceeded the goal with 500 additional items before they distributed the goods at the shelter.

“The center is not just a homeless shelter, but an empowerment service organization which offers critical care services and resources to homeless women, as well as case management. They help get people back on their feet, find housing and even create resumes.” stated Lunn. “This became a personal project for me, and I’m beyond thrilled that it catapulted into something bigger than I imagined.”

“We felt that not only would this be a service project that we would be able to do for the women in the area, but also as an advocacy project, raising awareness to the issue,” added Rodriguez.

Core Learning Center is located at 6523 Taft Street, Hollywood, 33024. To learn more and donate, please contact 954-842-3309 or email or

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