While most area children were busy playing this summer, little ten-year old Tia Nielsen showed just how bighearted our kids can be. Tia is a fifth grader at Tommie Barfield Elementary. Prior to the start of school, Tia took it upon herself to collect clothes, toys, towels, and more for those less fortunate than herself, specifically, to give them to migrant families at 6L Farms.
In late July, Tia was asked by Linda Garcia, Office Manager at 6L Farms to assist with bagging items together for families just arriving. Tia took it a step further and began collecting other items on her own. Recently, with some friends and parents in tow, she delivered the collected goodies to 6L Farms.
Migrant families make up 5% of the County Collier School District population, often moving from school to school with the growing season. A huge 58% of students in this district are considered ‘economically needy’ according to the district website. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development reports migrant farm workers average $7000 in wages per year for a single worker and $10,000 per year for a family. Currently, at least 50% of the farm workers in many parts of Florida are here alone. Though classified as “single”, many are married men temporarily removed from their families. In many cases, migrants will travel alone to follow the crops, and their families will stay in the ‘home’ state, establishing a year-round residence. This is common in families with school-age children; though there are many families who migrate together.
Following her visit Tia sent a letter with a promise to the migrant families that, if anyone needed anything, to please let the office manager know and she would try to collect it for them. She plans to go back to see them this fall with more donations. In her letter, in closing, Tia offered words of wisdom to the children:
“I hope the things I’ve collected will help make life today a little nicer. Live well, play well and stay well, but most importantly - treat others well. Live Love, Tia”