Know someone deserving of school supplies? Bag It Forward!
School is officially back in session in our area, as well as many areas around the country. If you don’t have a student of your own, you probably knew anyway if you’ve been to pretty much any store out there. The Back to School aisles are packed with notebooks, pens, crayons, glue, and oh, yeah – lots of people!
While there are a number of people filling up backpacks this fall the sad fact is that not everyone can afford all that’s needed to have a successful school year. It’s not a new phenomenon but the current economy certainly isn’t helping the situation. After college I spent a year teaching in a rural public school district. The town and school were filled with wonderful, hard-working people, but it certainly wasn’t a wealthy group of folks. I know that I wasn’t the only teacher who purchased a few things out of her own pocket in an effort to ensure the classrooms had everything they needed.
I have participated in two previous Simple Service Projects in conjunction with Champions for Kids, so when I heard about their newest collaboration with Elmer’s that encouraged people to “Bag it Forward” by purchasing school supplies and donating them to a deserving student, teacher, or community group, I was immediately on board. Not only was I a teacher, many of my friends and family members work or have worked in education: my father was a teacher many years ago, my sister-in-law is currently student teaching to finish her degree, my uncle was a superintendent, my aunt was a teacher, my best friend and her husband work in the same school district, and my aunt-in-law is a teacher – just to name a few!
I thought it would be great if we could surprise my aunt-in-law with some school supplies for her students; she taught for many years, and then after “retiring” decided that she missed the classroom, so she became a long-term substitute (usually for teachers who go out on maternity leave). So Bubbles and I headed to Walmart where I had noticed a number of school supply displays on an early trip the week before.
There were so many supplies! We ran across a display where everything was a dollar and found some cute Disney Princess crayons, Avengers pens – fun stuff! On the same display were hand lotions and soaps. I picked up a set; I wanted to give a small gift to the teacher on top of the supplies for her classroom. In the actual Back to School area the first thing we came across was the Elmer’s display with the back to school supply lists and the 1st Day App.
The 1st Day App lets you capture special memories of the first day of school (as either a parent or a teacher) and then turn those memories into custom keepsakes. You can personalize the photos with quotes or captions; organize them by date, child, and album; share photos and notes with family and friends; and upload the pictures to the 1st Day website where you can add borders, create slideshows, and further share with friends and family. The bonus part? For every photo uploaded, Elmer’s will donate one product (up to 200,000 products) to The Kids in Need Foundation!
You can download the 1st Day App by scanning the QR code on the kiosk or select Elmer’s glue bottles or by visiting this 1st Day site. I downloaded the app while standing in front of the kiosk; the whole process only took a minute or two. Once downloaded I took a picture of Bubbles holding some of the nearby school supplies.
There are so many more things to pick from now than I went to school. We always had the plain white Elmer’s glue bottles, and eventually we had the glue sticks. Now there are colored glue sticks, swirly glitter glue, colored glitter glue in bottles – it’s enough to make you wish you could go back to kindergarten and have craft time!
We loaded up our cart with Elmer’s glue, notebooks, folders, pens, highlighters, stickers – even a big bottle of disinfectant. You can see our entire shopping trip in my Google+ Album. I also bought two plastic bins in which to pack the supplies. I thought the teacher would be able to find some use for them (I know I always do!). We had purchased enough supplies to fill one; we decided to ask our friends and family to join us in our #BagItForward efforts and invited them to come over and bring school supplies to donate.
In addition to the hand soap and lotion, I had picked up a pink marker and a Starbucks gift card to give as my side gift to the teacher. So I sat that next to our filled donation bin, and then placed the empty bin next to it. As you can see – we filled it right up! Crayons, markers, tissues, colored pencils, notebooks (I had to find out where those notebooks came from, because they’re so cute!), pens – tons of great stuff.
We also had a surprise of our own! The aunt that we were going to make the donation to had decided to really retire. So I asked her opinion of a deserving teacher and she immediately had one name come to mind. She said this teacher had a true passion for education and her students, and taught in a school where funds were tight for parents sending their students back to school.
So we called her up and she was thrilled; she said they could definitely use the donations, and specifically they could use headphones (so that each child could have their own pair and keep things hygienic) and reusable shopping bags (they used them like tote bags to send books home with the kids each night). Those were items I never would have thought of! I did have some unused reusable shopping bags (hubby kept asking me why I held on to them – now I know!), so we repacked the donations into one and I’ll be taking a few others to her. The headphones are a separate matter; I’m going to look to see if I can find a good sale and help her out with those later.
A few days later I was able to meet up with Mrs. D. (both she and one of her kiddos had the flu for a few days). She was so surprised and touched at the donations! The school she teaches in has a very high rate of free and reduced lunches so many times not only are “extras” not available, often the basics aren’t, either. She said she couldn’t wait to take the supplies to school and show the kids. Not going to lie – I had a few tears in my eyes as I drove home. Helping others always makes you feel good, and when you can help someone that has a true need, it really does touch your heart.
If you’d like to stay on top of all that Elmer’s is doing, especially with the Bag It Forward program, follow them on both Twitter and Facebook. Please also check out the Bag It Forward Pinterest board to see a bunch of other great donation stories! I hope you’ll be inspired by what you see and consider making a #BagItForward donation of your own. If you do – please leave me a comment! And if you have pictures, I’d love to see them. You can leave the link here or feel free to share them on my Facebook page.
If you have gathered supplies to Bag It Forward, I’d love to hear about it!
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and and Elmer’s. #BagItForward #CBias #SocialFabric All opinions, as always, are 100% that of myself and my family.