Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School: How You Can Help Make It a Successful Year

The smell of freshly-sharpened pencils is in the air. Back to school season is upon us as children all over the country pack their backpacks with brand new notebooks, crayons, folders, and glue sticks. But some kids enter their classrooms on the first day of school without these necessary supplies.

This time of year often presents a financial challenge for low-income families. Many parents have to make tough decisions; school supplies or breakfast? Pencils or bus fare? Though school supplies might seem like a trivial expense that doesn’t fall under the necessity category, the long list of supplies can be overwhelming and impossible to fulfill for some, leaving kids feeling inadequately prepared for learning. Just like at a job, having the tools you need to complete a task are imperative to successful implementation and completion.

Many nonprofits recognize the implications that come with ill-prepared students and seek to equip children with these necessary items by holding school supply drives and collecting donations. Several of the organizations on our list of the Most Trustworthy Nonprofits work to ensure that every child’s school year starts off on the right track.

Here’s how you can help:

Union Gospel Mission has backpack drop off sites all over the metro area. Simply fill a backpack with items from their list of supplies and drop it off at the location most convenient for you.

St. Louis Park Emergency Program (STEP) distributes school supplies to St. Louis Park children. According to their website, “Our goal is for every St. Louis Park child to have a fresh start to the school year by providing a new backpack and grade appropriate school supplies.” In 2012, STEP provided supplies for 451 St. Louis Park students! To help with this year’s effort, drop items off at their St. Louis Park office.

Keystone Community Services holds a school supply drive each year. Though the official drive dates have passed, Keystone accepts school supply donations all year at their St. Paul office. They provide a list of the most-needed supplied to make your shopping easy.

Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) is a community-based program that helps meet the basic needs of families living in the northern part of the Twin Cities. Every year CEAP hosts a Supplies for Success event, matching children in need in Anoka County, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, and East Champlin with age appropriate school supplies to help them in the coming year. In 2012, CEAP distributed 1,400 backpacks filled with supplies to children in need! CEAP invites community members to host a Supply Drive or make a monetary donation.

C.R.O.S.S. serves individuals in Northwest Hennepin County. They provided school supplies to more than 800 children in 2012 and are collecting supplies this year in Rogers and Maple Grove. You can also purchase tickets from the Rotary Club of Northwest Hennepin County for $20 to provide a backpack filled with school supplied to one child in need.

Even though school has started for most, all of the nonprofits listed above welcome supply donations throughout the year and gladly accept cash donations, as well. It’s never too late to help provide school supplies, as needs often arise throughout the year. Check out our list of trustworthy and accountable charities for more ways to help families in need.

Donating school supplies is a simple, tangible way for the entire family to get involved in giving back to the community. Next time you find yourself at Target or Walmart, pick up a few extra boxes of markers or spiral notebooks for those children who don’t get to pick out their own. A small donation can make a big difference for students in need this school year.

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