Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
Create a Back-to-School Backpack
-28 million children from low-income families enter school each fall.
-Required school supplies cost between $20-$100, depending on the grade level, a financial burden for low-income families, especially if they have more than one school-age child.
-Having new and proper school supplies increases a child’s confidence, self-esteem, and excitement about school.
-Children who feel good about themselves and their abilities are much more likely to do well in school – and in life.
1. Select a family in your neighborhood or workplace who is in financial need and has school-aged children. Or ccall a local elementary school, food pantry, or church to find a family.
2. Get your friends, co-workers, and family members involved so you can buy in bulk. It’s more cost effective, and more kids can benefit.
3. Go to the website of the child’s school to see if a list of supplies for each grade level is posted. Also most Targets, Wal-Marts, and KMarts, have copies of the neighboring school supply lists right at their store.
4. Some ideas: backpack, #2 pencils, black or blue pens, colored pencils, crayons, markers, pencil box, folders, wide-ruled spiral notebooks, 12 inch ruler.
5. Select backpacks and school supplies that are fun and gender specific.
6. Deliver the backpacks with a smile!
Since our school district is very rural, we have a high amount of low-income families in our district. Since I often volunteer at the school, I have been there when a new student shows up, especially in the middle of the year, with nothing…no backpack, folder, pencils, markers, crayons, etc. You wouldn’t believe the smile on the child’s face, when the school nurse, or the teacher gives that child a brand new backpack full of supplies. This responsibility would often fall on the teacher to go out and get the supplies that student needed. Our school takes donations of any school supplies and has drop off boxes at our local library. Our church has a drive for school supplies that we then hand off to our school nurse to tuck away for particular situations. This year I already have a backpack that I purchased on clearance last year all ready to go into the school donation bin. I know it will make some little girl very happy! If you have a group, you can make a copy of the school supply list and divide it up between you, or each one of you take a gender and a grade and get all the supplies needed. Even if you are donating a glue stick or a notebook, you are helping out a student and a teacher at the same time!
Help make going back to school a positive experience and stock a backpack for a child. You are eliminating a challenge for a low-income family and enabling a young student to start the school year on a level playing field.