It may be hard to believe, but following the Fourth of July, the back to school supplies appear, heralding autumn and a new school year. Every child deserves the necessary supplies to excel in school. For me, it’s as fundamental as the ability to read and write. Too often, many children never get the tools they need.
As a volunteer with the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, one of the first projects I wanted to help with was the annual back to school drive, where every child enrolled in a Wilder program is provided with those necessary tools. I chose to help in two ways – (1) adopt a program and provide backpacks, notebooks, crayons, pens, pencils, flash drives – as much as I could afford, and (2) serve as a liaison and lead volunteer during the event. I quickly learned that buying in bulk meant I could serve more children, stretching my back to school dollars.
In 2017 we packed over 1,100 backpacks, had a record number of volunteers, and an unbelievably generous group of sponsors who helped make this huge endeavor a reality. However, the needs are increasing, not just here in Minnesota but across the U.S. In the current political climate, we expected the need for proper school supplies that low income families often cannot afford to continue rising. It has. This year we plan to provide 1,500 backpacks filled with supplies.
So, I’m issuing readers a challenge. If any of you that find and participate in a school supply drive in your community, I want to hear from you. Tell me the organization you volunteered for, the number of students served, if you participated as an individual or with a group, and most importantly, what you learned from the experience. I’ll take the best stories and publish them on future blogs in recognition of your hard work.
No child should begin the new school year unprepared. We can make a difference in their lives by making sure they are prepared and ready.