It's back-to-school time, and, if you have school-age children, your household is likely bustling with activity and filling up with books and backpacks. There are other households and school districts in your community, however, that have limited resources and could use some help gearing up for the school year.
Are you able to provide that help? Besides the satisfaction you'll derive, the example you set for your children could be among the most important lessons they learn this school year.
Here are a few ideas and resources to help you give back to your community as school gets under way:
- Donate Backpacks and Supplies
Remember the thrill of stepping off the bus with a pristine new backpack – filled with supplies – at the start of a new school year? You can help other children experience that same feeling by participating in or organizing a backpack donation drive. Check with area school districts, charities or TV and radio stations to locate one, or with your local Volunteers of America or Salvation Army outpost. To conduct your own, enlist members of your HOA, knitting circle, golf club or church group and follow this handy start-to-finish guide from the Hands On Network.
- Donate Books
Passionate about reading? Then why not help stimulate young minds by donating books to area families, schools, libraries or community groups in need? You may find an organization near you that collects and distributes book donations. Or, donate to a similar organization, such as First Book in Washington, D.C. or Page Ahead in Washington state, online. To organize your own book drive, contact a school district, library or community group near you and ask what types and levels of reading materials would be most beneficial.
It’s not all about donating things, of course. Volunteering your time to reading and tutoring programs puts you front and center for making a difference in your community. Start by calling local school districts and libraries or contacting community groups that run after-school programs. They'll likely have an existing program you can participate in, or would be thrilled to find a new project for you. Or, look for volunteer opportunities online. Reading Partners recruits volunteers in 10 states to provide one-on-one reading instruction to elementary school students who read below grade level. And, VolunteerMatch brings together volunteers and nonprofits nationwide.
- Help in Other Ways
Finally, these programs and websites may help ignite your giving spirit:
Operation School Bell: This Assistance League program provides books, clothing, backpacks and other necessities to needy schoolchildren in scores of cities nationwide.
DonorsChoose.org: Public school teachers across the country use this innovative charity to create and post classroom project requests. Donors can give any amount to a project they like. Similarly, AdoptAClassroom.org allows you to donate to registered classrooms nationwide.
National PTA: Start here to find a local PTA chapter near you, and a handy fundraising marketplace of vendors and services, as well as helpful advice on organizing successful fundraisers.
Of course, back-to-school isn’t the only time that less-fortunate children could benefit from a little support. So, consider donating supplies or volunteering any time during the school year. Just think of the wonderful impact you could make on the promising young minds in your area!