Now, I'm sure you've all heard of the phrase "Paying it Forward," but do you have a guess at what #BagItForward could mean?
Could something as simple as buying a few extra school supplies for the kids in your child's classroom that cannot afford to buy pencils and glue sticks really make a difference?
Let me tell you, it does.
Before starting my own family, I worked in homeless shelters, and with foster care youth for 10 years. I've seen first hand how selfless giving, and donations of school supplies, light up the faces of the kids who otherwise would have none. This is why #BagItForward is so important to me.
Champions for Kids has teamed up with Elmer's to help children around the country, obtain necessary school supplies, no matter what their parents income looks like this fall - and you can help. Keep reading to find out how!
Basic back-to-school supplies cost approximately $35-$50 bucks for (1) elementary school student. At least that's what I came up with from the local school supply lists in our county.
Do you know any families that struggle to put three nutritious meals on the table each day, let alone shell out an extra $50 bucks (per child) to buy the supplies they need to return to school each year? If you can say you honestly don't know anyone in that predicament this year, you have some friends who hide their situation very well.
When families have to choose between breakfast that morning or the second box of required crayons or (5) tubes of school glue - hunger usually wins. Rightfully so.
This means that many children return to school with empty backpacks, or just a few of the required school supplies, which other students often pick up on and can lead to teasing, bullying and other negative behaviors.
It's been proven that having quality school supplies is important to building a child's confidence and self-esteem, which in turn supports educational accomplishments.
- Champions for Kids
When I heard what Elmer's and Champions for Kids was doing with helping children towards a better school career by something as simple as being outfitted with the appropriate school supplies - I jumped into action.
Research The Need
#2. I contacted the Samaritan Inn, and found that they'd be happy to accept any donation, no matter how small or large - as the child residents in the shelter really had no options for school supplies this year.
#1. First, I organized a #BagItForward meeting on our local playgroup's meetup.com site encouraging moms to grab a few extra school supplies to donate while they were doing their own Back-To-School Shopping.
#2. I contacted 25-30 companies that carry school supplies and petitioned them for support. Five Below, a $5 and under store coming soon to Dallas was the only company ready to spring into action and help the community by sending three HUGE boxes full of school supplies to donate! "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Purchase School Supplies
#1. I headed out to Walmart to purchase the back to school supplies for my #BagItForward donation. I thought I could probably get the most "bang for my buck" there. I found tons of awesome prices on the back-to-school supplies on my list. Check out photos of my shopping trip in this Google + album.
#2. The moms from our playgroup headed out to various stores with their kiddos to purchase school supplies to donate. See the little humanitarians in training - what a gift to give your children (photo below)!
Just (4) out of (42) families in our meetup group participated in the #BagItForward donation collecting. Not as many as I expected, but the ones who gave, gave whole heartedly!
Make A Difference
#1. I held a #BagItForward playdate at my house for all the moms who had shopped earlier in the week, to gather and tally our donations. The kids had fun playing, and the moms shared about their experience including their young children in the process of shopping for other kids in need. What an important lesson to instill in children at a young age - giving, empathy, selflessness. It's never too early to start molding our kids into young humanitarians, right?
#2. My family picked a Saturday, piled into the car and drove over to Samaritan Inn to drop off our Elmer's Bag It Forward donation. The staff there were super excited to see how much we were able to gather.
Remember, no donation is too small to make a difference in the life of one child.
Now, it's Your Turn!
It's not too late to join me and Elmer's in being Champions for Kids with the Bag It Forward movement in your own community.
Feel free to use my idea of creating a #BagItForward playgroup, or get your knitting group or kids sports team to grab a few extra school supplies this year, to donate to a kid whose quality of life and educational path will actually change for the better with your help of a simple donation.
For more information on how to participate, visit: http://championsforkids.org/elmers