School supplies are essential to children's success, but limited budgets often leave classrooms lacking the basics to support the educational process. Even classrooms stocked with supplies at the start of the school year have bare shelves at the halfway point. With months of school left to go, teachers often spend their own money to make ends meet.
On average, teachers spend nearly $500 on school supplies, according to Time.com, and one in 10 spend $1,000 or more. A total of $1.6 billion in school supply costs is shifted from parents — or from cash-strapped districts — onto teachers themselves, the article reports.
It's time to give teachers a well-deserved break while helping all students reach their academic potential. The surprisingly simple solution? Host a mid-year school supply drive.
Feel good about making a difference by following these five simple steps to a successful school supply drive:
Create a wish list
Work with your teacher or other educational leaders to determine what exactly students need. Maybe they're overstocked on crayons but really need pencils and construction paper. A supply drive can be held for your child's individual classroom, the whole grade level or entire school, so make sure the list is accurate.
Top supplies classrooms need that are easy for people to donate include:
- Paper products like lined notebooks, construction paper and index cards
- Pencils and pens
- Markers, crayons, highlighters and dry-erase markers
- Paper clips, binders and tape
- Tissues, sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer
Running a supply drive solo can be a lot of work. If you have a few other people willing to help, it can be a great relief, plus it's an easy way to get the word out. It takes a village!
Make a plan
Determine when the drive will begin and end. Then figure out drop-off sites. Beyond the school, work with local businesses, churches and community centers to get permission to place a box with requests so residents can participate. Remember to sort and empty boxes regularly.
Promotion is essential to a successful supply drive. If people don't know about it, they can't donate. Some ideas:
- Develop flyers and post throughout the community
- Call the local newspaper to see if they'll print a mention
- Reach out to the PTA and other community organizations
- Request the school post info on social media and in school newsletters
- See if the teacher will send out an email to parents
- Use your personal social media accounts to boost participation
- Post large signs at drop-off locations
Seek direct donations
Some organizations prefer to make a cash donation rather than shopping for specific supplies. Start by asking your work (and encourage other parents to do the same) to see if they'd be willing to make a donation. Then reach out to school partners, such as Lifetouch Preschool Portraits, noting the reason for the drive and asking for any level donation. Finally, communicate with local businesses and government officials to see if they'd be willing to make a donation.
Need more help? Check out this great guide from Createthegood.org.
School supplies are essential to children's success, but limited budgets often leave classrooms lacking the basics to support the educational process.