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Sunday, August 3, 2014

LouFamFun Volunteer Challenge - August

I recently read that the average American spends $700 on back to school shopping! This includes clothing, supplies and fees, with parents of high school students paying the most. For those looking to save money, now is the time as school supplies are priced incredibly low this time of year. However, many families cannot afford even the lowest prices. These families include children that are living in our city, our neighborhoods and are attending school with our children.

 photo photo1_zps007e9949.jpgWhen Crestwood United Methodist Mothers of Preschoolers Group heard that Crestwood Elementary School was collecting school supplies, we decided to make it a summer service project. We were given a list of needed school supplies, distributed the list to our members and asked our members to choose which item they would like to purchase with their children. I chose to supply the notebooks and one backpack. I took my six year old to WalMart to help me find the right colors. I explained to him why we were collecting the supplies and how they were going to be used. He liked that he knew his friends were also helping and that he knew which school he was helping. We spent about $10 on supplies.

 photo photo3_zps9ed3a19b.jpgAfter we all had a chance to shop, the participating CUMC MOPS members met to package ten backpacks together. Children, ages 1-8, walked around a ping pong table covered in school supplies and put them in the backpacks. They had fun “shopping” with their friends and seeing how the once empty backpacks were now stuffed and heavy. Our missions coordinator spoke to the children about the purpose of our service project and also gave each of them an opportunity to say something. I was personally touched by the things the children said about the supply collection. One child commented that when people receive help they are more likely to help others in return.

 photo photo2_zps717f67bb.jpgOnce the backpacks were filled, we took a mini field trip to Crestwood Elementary to deliver them. The kids were excited to see the inside of the school where the supplies were going to be used by students. The kids dropped off their heavy backpacks in the school’s library where a staff member briefly spoke about how thankful they were for the time and donated supplies. They left Crestwood Elementary proud and asking about the next service project.

There are many students in need in the Louisville area. I posted on JCPS’s facebook page asking how supplies can be donated. I was told that those wanting to donate can contact the district’s PTA (502-485-3535) for information. Reading through some of the comments on their page, I noticed a lot of parents were planning to donate extra supplies to their child’s classroom, dropping them off at the school’s office or are getting in touch with the Family Resource and Youth Services Centers.

Our MOPS group was fortunate to have a connection between our charter church and a local elementary school. If organizing a collection is not feasible, there are other opportunities to help donate school supplies. Many stores have printed supply lists for local schools and JCPS has a fundamental supply list available. Have your child choose a school, a grade and one or two items to donate. You can deliver the items to the school together. Local churches, employers and organizations also collect school supplies and distribute the supplies locally this time of year. LifeBridge and Volunteers of America Kentucky have drop off locations and schedules for back to school items.

Many stores have collection bins located near the checkout. Dollar Tree has an option to choose an item right at the register. When you buy select school supplies at Target, they will donate a school supply to the Kids in Need Foundation. WalMart works with Champions for Kids and has pre-packaged school supplies that can be purchased and donated at the checkout.

You can help children by giving them the tools they need to succeed in school. Collecting school supplies can easily be done during your next visit to the store. Donating school supplies supports the students, teachers and local schools and allows your family an opportunity to serve together. JCPS schools start on August 13th and others start shortly after. Neighborhood Place in Louisville is offering nine back to school events where supplies will be available. See their website for more info.  It is the perfect time to grab cheap school supplies and donate to area schools with your children!

By guest contributor: Nicolle

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