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Donate School Supplies to a Classroom in Need

by Jamie Littlefield
The Challenge

In low-income districts, school supplies are a luxury that many classrooms go without. A few months into the school year, teachers are presented with a small paper bag of limited, mismatched school supplies and are told to "make do." Often, they must purchase the supplies needed to run the classroom out of their already meager paychecks. In fact, teachers spend up to $1,000 out-of-pocket on necessary items such as school supplies every single year. When they don't have the money, teachers must choose between giving their students an inferior education and taking more drastic measures. More than one frustrated teacher has been found spending hours at the copy machine, running off thousands of pages of illegal black and white copies so that their students can read a book.

Kids deserve better than that. They deserve to have access to the school supplies needed to learn. They should be surrounded by good books, convenient supplies, and the materials necessary to conduct projects and experiments.

Students who aren't given the necessary school supplies (such as an up-to-date math book, a working calculator, and plenty of paper) can become frustrated and have a difficult time in class. Readily available school supplies let students and teachers focus on what's really important: learning.

You can help kids have a better education by donating school supplies to a classroom in need. In just a couple hours, you can make a difference and will probably even find donate-able school supplies sitting unused in your own home.

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It's easy to donate school supplies. In fact, you can probably fit this project in today's lunch break. Simply choose the way that fits you best:

Do a School Supply "Drop and Run"

Search your house for any usable office supplies that you no longer need. Don't worry if your supplies are slightly used – teachers will be so happy to have the school supplies that they won't be too picky about their condition. Here are a few basic items you may want to look for:

  • lined paper
  • pens and pencils
  • erasers
  • highlighters
  • dry-erase markers
  • overhead projector transparency sheets
  • overhead projector markers
  • paperclips
  • binders
  • report covers
  • staples and a stapler
  • construction paper
  • glue sticks
  • markers
  • tape
  • art supplies (for elementary and art classes)

You may also want to pick up some school supplies from your local dollar store. Then, put your donation in a bag and drop it off at a local school. You can leave the bag at the main office or you can give the school supplies to the teacher of your choice. Note that schools with a “Title 1” designation have the highest percentage of students coming from low-income families and may have the greatest need for donated school supplies.

Give Kids the School Supplies They Really Need

Call a local classroom ahead of time and talk to a teacher to find out what school supplies her students really need. Aside from the basic supplies, keep these common needs in mind:

  • various books for classroom libraries (check your garage or stop by yard sales)
  • class sets of a particular book
  • curriculum resources that the district cannot or is not willing to pay for
  • materials for special projects
  • skills and talent donations (a printer might be able to make copies of a student-created book; a scientist might provide the opportunity for a fieldtrip to a lab)

Let the teacher know what your resources and abilities are. You're sure to come up with an easy way to help kids get the school supplies they need.

Organize a School Supply Drive

Consider holding a school supply drive in your neighborhood or at your place of business, social club, community center, or church for one or more schools in your area that could use some help with school supplies. The Create the Good program offers lots of guidelines and tips on how to hold a successful drive.

Send School Supplies by Mail

Develop Africa is an organization that accepts new and gently used school supplies for children in Africa. The organization provides of list of school supplies that it can use and which you can mail to their facility for distribution. 

Spread the Word

If you are unable to donate any school supplies this year, you can still help kids by getting the word out. Tell your friends and family members about the need for school supplies. If you have a blog, run a website, or post on forums, let the people you interact with know how they can help. You may want to post a notice in your offices' break room or on a community information board. Family members and co-workers may also be interested in Donor's Choose and Adopt A Classroom.

Have a Party

The next time you have a birthday party, consider asking the invited guests to bring schools supplies rather than a gift for the guest of honor. If you have a child, you might discuss this way of sharing his or her birthday with less fortunate children in need of school supplies. Then your child can help package up and deliver the supplies. 

Once you've delivered the school supplies or helped spread the word, give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate with an apple – you've just made the school year a little brighter for a classroom of young learners.

Spread the Word