All over the nation, students may not be learning in the atmosphere that they are used to. New situations arise that may get in the way of their schoolwork, which adversely affects low-income families. A 2020 report found that 22 million children in the United States depend on school-funded lunches as a regular meal. Besides food, young students also rely on schools to provide them or loan them school supplies. Families who were already socio-economically challenged may have lost a steady income due to the pandemic and now have to worry about providing all meals and giving their children necessary school supplies like notebooks and pens, which were once available to them at school.
Currently, school budgets are strained as a result of meeting reopening requirements. The National Retail Fund (NRF) has found that COVID-19 effects have increased school supplies’ cost by nearly $100. This year, it is expected that every family will pay about $789.49, including new shoes, clothes, and electronics for virtual school. Without the pandemic, that money could be going toward food, electric bills, heating, plumbing, etc. During these challenging times, with the pandemic and cultural changes around the country, volunteers and good citizens need to help others.
My home state of New Jersey feeds nearly 500,000 children through schools’ meal programs. Towns all over the tri-state area opened initiatives to continue to provide meals as soon as the stay-at-home order began. Other initiatives have expanded efforts to aid in providing needed school supplies and “at-school snacks.”
New Jersey’s Project Self Sufficiency (PPS) is a non-profit organization helping families in as many ways as possible. PPS provides support to parents, teens, and young children. PPS is home to a career center, guiding underprivileged families and people to success and healthy lifestyles. For example, they host a high school diploma program, ensuring that every person can get a good education catered to their needs. The corporation also organizes a wide range of programs and volunteer opportunities to help. One of the programs the organization conducts is its annual Backpack Project. They open their doors for people in the area to donate new school supplies to be filled in backpacks and given to children about to start a new school year. PSS needed New Jersey residents to help this year more than ever. I had the opportunity to do something good for my NJ community. I learned something else. I take advantage of easy access to something as fundamental as binders, paper, and some pens.
I rallied for donations of materials and money for supplies. I told as many people in my contact list as I could about the project. At my Supply Drive, I collected binders, notebooks, pens, pencils, paper, erasers, shelf-stable snacks, scissors, glue, rulers, folders, pencil cases, calculators, colored pencils, markers, crayons, and highlighters. All the support gratified me. Looking back on how much was collected in such a short amount of time made me realize how much help my peers and I were in making someone else’s life just a little bit easier.
At the end of the drive, I was able to fill 120+ backpacks worth of school supplies. 120 more kids don’t have to worry about saving a piece of paper from last year’s used notebook to take notes. They don’t need to search for half-used pencils, discarded pens, and old crayons. They get their own new supplies for themselves and are one step closer to school success.
Without food, students can’t perform their best in the classroom. Without supplies, they can’t perform at all. I’m grateful that I had the chance to change someone’s educational experience for the better and give them another year of success in school.
Here is a picture of me and (not even close to all) of the school supplies that were dropped off. I want to personally thank everyone involved in making a child’s life just a little bit easier this year!