It’s that time again, moms and dads! ‘Tis the season to buy notebooks, pencils, markers, crayons, folders, construction paper, pens, and backpacks. As a parent, it’s always exciting to prepare your little academic for another school year! However, not all parents get to focus on the fun of Back to School. For many, the beginning of a new school year brings stress and anxiety as they try to scrape together funds for all the things their children will need to keep up in class. During really tough times, purchasing school supplies might even be put off altogether in favor of feeding the family or keeping the lights on. When this happens, many children turn up to class empty-handed, embarrassed and ashamed. This absolutely breaks my heart. But the good news is that in Houston, there are so many incredible organizations and people working to lessen the burden on families in need, making the beginning of the school year a happy and exciting time for all. With the first day of school just around the corner, I’ve provided a list of some great opportunities on how you can help under privileged children our community start the new school year right.
Star of Hope: The largest homeless shelter in Houston provides men, women, and children emergency shelter, transitional housing, career development, health clinics, substance abuse recovery, parenting classes, on-site daycare and pre-school, teen activity groups, and computer learning classes for both teens and adults. As you can imagine, many of the children at Star of Hope are behind academically and some have never even been to school. R.O.C.K. (Reaching Out, Catching Kids) is a special program Star of Hope has instituted for children who have lost academic ground because of being homeless. Through R.O.C.K, they receive remedial help, encouragement, and educational enrichment. Monetary and in-kind donations given go to support these programs and others by providing for school supplies, books, and school uniforms. For a list of acceptable items and more information on giving, check out their site.
YMCA’s “Operation Backpack”: YMCAs across the Greater Houston area have geared up for the past six years to send children of all ages off to class prepared for success. They helped over 40,000 children last year alone! It’s simple and fun to participate: Purchase a new backpack, fill it with school supplies, write a note of encouragement to place in the bag, and bring the completed bag to your local YMCA, Shoe Carnival, or participating HEB grocery store location before Wednesday, August 15th.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Houston: Each year, Big Brothers, Big Sisters sponsors a school supply drive for the area’s neediest families. They offer several different ways to help out, which includes holding your own supply drive in your community or, for only $30, providing a child with a backpack full of supplies pertinent to their grade level (K-5 or 6-12). BBBS is also hosting the “Back to School Fundraiser” now through August 31st to raise $250,000, which will match 250 school children with mentors who will stick with them throughout the school year to see that they are successful in their academic endeavors. For more information, email Holly Hendley or call (713) 860-8230.
Staples for Students: This mecca for all things organization and planning also happens to show its support for students every year by accepting donated supplies from people just like you! By partnering with the DoSomething campaign, they offer donors the opportunity to purchase supplies in-store to be donated to participating schools. Or run your own school supply drive and drop off donations at your local Staples now through September 15th.
United Way of Greater Houston “Operation School Supplies”: For the 20th year in a row, the United Way is providing underprivileged students with basic school supplies so that they can focus on their studies. To help, you can visit your neighborhood HEB grocery store and purchase a pre-packaged bag of supplies or pick up an Operation School Supplies coupon to be added to your grocery purchase, buy Coca-Cola products at HEB and the Houston Coca-Cola Bottling Company will donate a portion of the proceeds to Operation School Supplies, and you can sponsor a school ($25) or a school district ($100). For more information, call the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE. Just dial 2-1-1.
DonorsChoose.org: Have you heard of this site? I recently learned of it and I think it is simply amazing! It is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on the site. As a donor, you can browse project requests and give to one that inspires you. Once a project reaches its funding goal, they deliver the materials to the school. You’ll get photos of your project taking place, a thank you letter from the teacher, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. If you give over $50, you also receive handwritten thank you letters from students! You can give as little as $1 and are able to spread your donations out among as many projects as you choose. In Houston alone, there are 107 different projects spanning subjects including “Math and Science”, “History and Civics”, Music and the Arts”, “Special Needs”, etc.
A few smaller yet equally important local school supply drives:
- First American Title in Sugar Land will be holding a school supply drive to benefit the Fort Bend School District on Friday, August 17th from 2-6 p.m. Don’t forget to drop your business card while you’re there for the chance to win door prizes!
- ReMax Preferred Group will be collecting 24-ct. crayons, #2 pencils, washable markers, wide-ruled paper, construction paper, and folders at the Blue Heron Building in Montgomery.
- The Willowbridge High School Alumni Class of 1990 will be hosting its annual “Operation Backpack” Supply Drive to benefit Fort Bend ISD on Tuesday, August 21st from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Drop supplies in the circle drive in front of the school located at 16301 Chimney Rock.