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Gargiulo Education Center extending hours to care for at-risk children in Collier County

A non-profit education center in North Naples has extended its hours amid the pandemic.

Gargiulo Education Center helps under-served and at-risk children in Collier County, specifically those who are in farming families and would otherwise be home alone.

Normally, kids would start to trickle in around 2 p.m. just after school gets out, but now the center opens the doors at 11:30 a.m.

Since they have 70 kids coming here for care on a daily basis, social distancing is a must.

The Gargiulo Education Center said they’ve added six-foot markings on the floors and sidewalks so students are always six feet apart.

And since there’s limited space inside, some kids are set up outside under tents and fans.

It may not be ideal, but Mary Asta, the center’s director and board member, said they are doing anything and everything to help families and students put food on the table and complete virtual assignments.

“Their parents are farmers. I mean they are working in the fields, picking the much-needed vegetables and crops that need to be picked. Without them, there wouldn’t be certain vegetables, that’s for sure. And the kids are by themselves and many of them don’t have internet,” Asta said.

She said she’s looking for more teachers since many of them are self-isolating for their own health and safety.

Until she can find more, each age group is limited to about an hour of hands-on learning.

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
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