Giving Back: Back to School Edition

by Courtney Christensen

August is back-to-school month across the United States, but because of the global pandemic, there are even more challenges than usual this year. While parents and teachers are doing the best they can for their students, some extra help certainly won’t go unnoticed. Here are some ways you can give back and help out this school year.

Donate to Non Profits

There are thousands of charities for kids, teachers, and schools out there. If you’re looking to donate someplace that will have a real impact on kids, it’s only a quick Google away! Here are some of our favorites:

Junior Achievement: “JA USA's volunteer-delivered, kindergarten-12th grade programs foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire students in our community to dream big and reach their potential.” You can donate or volunteer your time to help the Junior Achievement chapter in your area.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: “As the nation’s largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 5 through young adulthood in communities across the country. [They] develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.” While you can absolutely donate money to this organization, becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister is actually very fulfilling!

DonorsChoose: “DonorsChoose empowers public school teachers from across the country to request much-needed materials for their students. Right now there are thousands of teacher requests that you can help bring to life with a gift of any amount.” With requests for items from individual teachers, you know that you are bringing a big impact to a single classroom.

Teach for America: “Teach For America works toward the day when every child will receive an excellent and equitable education. [They] find and nurture leaders who commit to expanding opportunity for low-income students, beginning with at least two years teaching in a public school.” This program finds brand-new teachers and gives them the opportunity to teach low-income students. This gives them experience teaching, but also instills leadership values into the teachers!

Help Out Locally

No one knows what’s needed more than the schools themselves. Contact area schools to see what you can donate to them. Items like school supplies (pencils, notebooks, calculators, etc) are a very common request. You can also collect Box Tops from General Mills products (or Labels for Education from Cambell’s) for your own child’s school. It’s easier these days – no more cutting and collecting. You can simply scan the label via an app.

Many schools also provide suggestions for a gift in kind. These are usually big ticket items or services that you can get a school. A new playground or laptops, etc. If your business offers services that a school may benefit from, donating those services also applies here. Schools will typically have regulations when it comes to gifts in kind, so it’s best to contact the school and discuss the idea before purchasing anything huge!

As a parent, your options are abundant! Without spending any money, you can donate your time to your child’s school to help with all kinds of things. Schools are always looking for parents and families to help with things like fundraising events, after school care, field trips, coaching sports teams, or even just helping paint decorations for a school play or event. Find out what you can do for your school by picking up the phone!

Begin at Home

Donating your time or money in any of the ways listed above will do so much for your community and others just like it. However, none of that makes a difference if you aren’t also helping at home, too. Not only should you instill the same generosity in your own children, but you can also help give teachers a break just by being present in your child’s life – especially when it comes to school.

Because of the pandemic, many schools are transitioning into virtual or hybrid classes. This means teachers are having to work over a distance, and that comes with many challenges – the hardest being keeping the kids focused and learning. This is where you come in! Make sure you kids are using the technology at home correctly, that there aren’t any issues with laggy internet or broken headphones. Make sure they attend their classes on time, every time. Consult with their teacher often to make sure everything is going as smoothly as it can.

Lastly, reach out to your teacher friends! They are struggling through this just like you are. A gift card to a local coffee shop or a bottle of wine make excellent gifts! If nothing else, give them the opportunity to talk through their struggles with you. Boost their confidence and let them know: they’re doing great!

 

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