Tuesday, August 6, 2013

{Kindness Crosses Barriers} Call to Action: Donate Back to School Supplies


Every where I turn, I see the sales and ads for school supplies. Thus, when I considered a theme for this month's "Kindness Crosses Barriers" Call to Action, I knew that donating Back to School Supplies was the perfect act of kindness for August. 

As Sheila of Pennies of Time reminds me daily: 

"No matter your age, where you are from, your hobbies, or your background...YOU can help others." 

Her words are so true, I recall a moment in an after-school program I ran when I child whose pants had holes in them, who often did not have all of his required school supplies, who eagerly took home extra milk when possible, gave his last dollar during an effort the children had chosen to do to support students across the world in Burkina Faso who had no running water. Our students had committed to raising $250 for those students. We had $225, which was impressive, but this little boy wanted his last dollar to go toward reaching our goal. His gift, prompted others to give as well and surpassed our goal with 40 additional dollars growing out of his single, precious dollar bill. (Read my initial post about the experience here). I will never forget that moment or that little boy who reminds me that no matter what challenges I may currently face, I can always help someone else. I can always give back. I can always practice kindness and spread love. 

For this Kindness Crosses Barriers Call to Action, I wanted to take advantage of it being Tuesday and share Ten for Tuesday -- Ten Ways to Give the Gift of Education, with special emphasis on school supplies.

1. It's Simple - Buy an Extra Set: Many stores have school supplies at their lowest prices ever right now. When purchasing supplies for your own child, get an extra set of everything to donate to an organization in your community that works with underserved youth. In our community, a food pantry and the Boys and Girls Club routinely collect school supplies. If you can't buy an entire extra set, just buy a few extras of whatever you can. Sheila, of Pennies of Time, mentioned that she typically donates supplies directly to teachers as they know which students need the supplies. This is a simple and easy way to donate your goodies! My favorite local coffee shop, It's A Grind in Castaic, is collecting school supplies now through August 20th. You never know how easy it can be to give back. Another great giving tip comes from Amy Sullivan who suggests connecting with school counselors, who often know what students need supplies. 

2. Check Your Stash: I know you're out there...the hoarders. Some of us simply can't resist a sale, but then also don't always keep track of our supplies or just keep stashing the supplies away. Dig around in your hiding spaces, your craft bin, your garage, etc. You might discover you don't need to buy anything at all, but have plenty of new school supply items already that are just begging to get donated. 

3. Engage Others: In our community recently, a local church set a goal in July of collecting 1,000 back packs to fill with supplies and give to students at a community event that was held this past Saturday. By connecting with others, the impact increases and often spending time with others working together to serve is a very rewarding experience leading to new friendships. Plus, the smile on a child's face cannot be beat!
A talented instructor with Think Ten Media Group surprised these lucky girls at the community event.
4. Spread the Word - If you know of a church, organization or even a group of individuals that is doing a school supply drive, tell others. I write a weekly column for a local news site and shared about various ways to donate school supplies in our community. I've seen in the past that spreading the word does work. A previous column resulted in an $8,000 donation for a family in need, so don't underestimate the power of encouraging others to give! (In that spirit, in my local community DeSesa Chiropractic is still collecting supplies until Aug. 24th. Details can be found in my latest column.) 

5. Zumba - So this is probably the most creative school supply donation program I've heard of. I recently learned that a local Zumba teacher does a school supply Zumbathon. It works! She gets lots of donations. Her next one will be starting soon. I plan on sharing the details on my Facebook page when it happens. (Of course, it doesn't have to be Zumba. Kids could commit to a dance party for school supplies or set up a lemonade stand. I personally like the idea of a Back to School Balloons, where every person who donates gets a balloon). The point is giving can be fun and creative! 

6. Use Supplies to Say Thank You - Amanda and Kim over at The Educators' Spin On It often share acts of kindness and inspirational ways that they give back and serve others. Knowing that teachers often spend their own money on supplies for their classrooms (more and more as budgets get cut), their Mom's Group put together a Teacher's Supply Box for Back to School calling it a creative way to support new teachers. Leanna of All Done Monkey shared their her Mom's Group did the same thing. It is a perfect idea. When I ran an after-school program, I often spent my own money on supplies, and I know that most teachers do. This idea would be great for a brand new teacher or as a way to say thank you to a teacher that you loved as a child or that your own child loved. In the end, their Mom's Group collected enough supplies for three boxes!


7. Keep It Simple - Another simple, but highly appreciated way to support teachers and/or parents in need is through gift cards. If you can, the next time you are at a store that sells school supplies, add on a $10, $15 or even $25 gift card to give to a teacher or to donate to a group that supports parents in need. I know Single Mothers Outreach in our community greatly appreciates gift cards. This way, the parent and/or teacher can get exactly what they need just in time for a new school year. 

8. Make A Donation - This one is even easier. In fact, you don't have to leave your house or even get off the computer. Simple click and give. The 10x10 Fund for Girls' Education is just one way to give. They are currently seeking donations for uniforms, school fees and desks and chairs for girls all over the world struggling to get an education. I recently saw the film Girl Rising, which demonstrates so clearly the importance of education for all. The Kids in Need Foundation is another organization that I recently discovered. I also love Donors Choose, where teachers share what they need and you simple pick what need you want to help support. 

9. Get in the Christmas Spirit - I know Christmas is a long way off, but I have seen the popularity of Operation Christmas Child grow and grow. Consider getting school supplies now, while they are so cheap, so that you will have them to add to your Operation Christmas Child box when the time comes. (Just don't put them in a place where you will forget about them!) 

10. Be THAT Parent - Donating school supplies is important and certainly children with the proper supplies are better prepared, engaged and excited about learning. Schools need us to donate supplies. Schools also need our time, so remember that donating your time and being involved in your child's school can be equally important, sometimes more so. I know how much I valued the teen volunteers who would come to the after school program I ran. They could sharpen pencils for me or organize supplies. They could make copies, help with busy work and assist teachers -- reading one-on-one with a child who really needed it, for example. Allison at No Time for Flash Cards recently shared a post on How to Be THAT Parent (with help from Volunteerspot). Pop over there and see how you can Take the Pledge to volunteer and potentially get $1,500 for your school!

No matter what you do to join in with our Kindness Crosses Barriers Call to Action, please share! I want to know. You can leave a comment or share it on Facebook. All week this week, I'll be sharing Back to School posts, and I look forward to hearing all of the ways people are getting involved to support their local schools, teachers and students (or schools, teachers and students across the world too!) I also just started a Back to School Pinterest Board that I'll be adding ideas to as well, so follow it and share activities that I can add to the board! 
You might also like:
Giving Tuesday - A Black Friday Confession
Random Acts of Kindness 



6 comments:

  1. This is a fantastic posts with doable ideas! I laughed at the "hoarders" comment because I SO used to hoard school supplies when I was a teacher to give to my students. Excellent!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What wonderful ideas to really make a difference for others!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a inspirational post. Thank you so much for our Teacher Supply Box idea. We've done it for 3 years is a row and the teachers are so grateful. The year I'll be sending in extra items to my daughters class mid year but buying them with sales now. You have no idea how much teachers spend on their own classrooms each year.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the way you give specific ways to help ... all doable and a great way to make a difference to others! Thanks a bunch for sharing this post on the KBN Back-to-School blog hop!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this post, thanks so much for sharing all these great ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a great list - pinned! And what a touching story about the sweet boy who wanted to share his last dollar to help others. It truly is the spirit of sacrifice that makes a difference, not the size of the gift. Thank you for the mention, and thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper!

    ReplyDelete