Volusia constitutional officers join to help homeless students

Frank Fernandez
| The Daytona Beach News-Journal

Volusia County’s constitutional officers have joined forces to help Volusia County’s homeless students in this particularly difficult pandemic-plagued year.

The officers are collecting money and gift cards for food, gasoline and hotel stays for approximately 2,000 homeless students in Volusia County. The charity drive runs through Dec. 14.

Volusia County Clerk of the Circuit Court Laura Roth was always an independent constitutional officer, but the passage of Amendment 10 gave true independence to others who had before been elected department heads. It also created a completely new constitutional office of tax collector.

More: Click here to make a donation

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who battled against the county to pass Amendment 10, suggested the constitutional officers get together for a meeting, she said. And Roth added that’s where she suggested the charity drive.

“We want to be seen more as the five constitutional officers and have some group clout, so I said ‘Why don’t we kick it off with a charity drive?’ and everybody liked it,” Roth said.

As of Oct. 30, the numbers for homeless students in Volusia County were as follows: 84 living in cars, campgrounds and parks; 176 living in emergency shelters and transitional housing; 178 homeless unaccompanied youth; 351 in hotels or motels; and 1,396 “living with others/double up,” according to information provided to Roth by the Volusia County School District.

The constitutional officers filmed a video in which each took a turn asking for help, beginning with Chitwood.

“This has not been a normal year by any means and COVID has only complicated our student homelessness in Volusia County,” Chitwood said. “The school district has experienced a significant student homeless increase for three straight years and as the health crisis continues to rise, so has the number of homeless students, making survival complicated. In Volusia County, we have over 2,000 students who are homeless.”

Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis was next on the video.

“This means in Volusia County we have over 2,000 students who don’t have some place to call home. They’re sleeping in cars, in parks, on the beach, in abandoned buildings, in bus and train stations.”

She was followed by Volusia County Property Appraiser Larry Bartlett.

“Our holiday and charity drive is not about toys. It’s about necessities,”  Bartlett said. “So let’s help our homeless students have a safe place to sleep these holidays and donate a gift card for food or a safe place to sleep.”

He was followed by the elected Tax Collector Will Roberts, the first such constitutional officer in the county in decades. 

“We have established several drop-off locations throughout Volusia County and we will post those locations on all our Facebook pages,” Roberts said.

Next was Clerk of the Court Roth.

“So please join our cause by supporting our homeless students for the holidays,” Roth said. “Donate food or gas-gift card or a gift card for a stay at a hotel at one of our many locations. Our staff is standing by to accept your generous gifts. The deadline to donate is Dec. 14, 2020. Together we can make a difference for our students in need. Our goal is to help as many as we can before the holidays.”

The video camera returned to Chitwood for the closing comments.

“We, your elected constitutional officers, are challenging our community to open your hearts and your wallets to give a homeless Volusia County student a safe place to sleep and something to eat this holiday season.”

The five officers conclude the video with “thank you.”

How to contribute to the Constitutional Officers Charity Drive:

Online at vsyf.org.

Or visit one of the constitutional offices in person and contribute cash or gift cards:

The Clerk of the Circuit Court in the First Floor Recording Room A121 at the Volusia County Courthouse at 101 N. Alabama Ave. in DeLand; the First Floor Civil Division Room 100 at City Island Courthouse at 125 E. Orange Ave. in Daytona Beach. Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone: 386-736-5915, ext. 16514.

Sheriff’s office locations at 1706 S. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand; 1435 U.S. Highway 1 in the Ormond Beach/Holly Hill area; 101 E. Canal St. in New Smyrna Beach; 1691 Providence Blvd. in Deltona; and 79 S. Charles Beall Blvd. in DeBary. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone: 386-490-6023.

Supervisor of Elections office at 1750 S. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone: 386-736-5930.

The Volusia County Property Appraisers Main Office, Room 102, at 123 W. Indiana Ave. DeLand, and at offices at 921 N. Nova Road in Holly Hill, 113 E. Canal St., New Smyrna Beach, and 2744-A Enterprise Road, Orange City. Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone: 386-882-5717.

Volusia County Property Tax and Tag Office Room 103 at 123 W. Indiana Ave. in DeLand; 1845 Holsonback Drive in Daytona Beach; 111 Canal St. in New Smyrna Beach; and 2744 Enterprise Road in Orange City.

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