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Back-to-School Philanthropy—How to Support a Student in Need

Though your parched plants and almost-empty bottle of sunscreen suggest otherwise, the weather’s getting the teensiest bit cooler. And parents know firsthand that kids are getting the teensiest bit bored at home. As local parks departments drain pools and schools air out musty lockers, we can feel what’s coming.

A new school year is nearly here. And a new school year means new opportunities for charity. Many people are shocked when they find out how many students in their schools—even their children’s classmates—rely on the charity of others to fill their backpacks and even their bellies.

Here are our ideas for how you can support the low-income students in your local schools.

Lunch Line
Serving students isn’t unlike supporting other low-income members of your community. The main difference is that their practical needs are more specific than those of an adult. A hot lunch is one of the most basic—and important—things local students need from you. It’s hard to learn when distracted by an empty stomach.

Donating non-perishable goods to your local soup kitchen or food pantry is a good idea at any time of the year. But if you want to helps students specifically, contact the schools in your area. Some schools provide breakfast and dinner to students who otherwise wouldn’t eat at home. Cook for the kids in your community one or two mornings a week.

Maybe the school day isn’t your students’ problem. Maybe weekends are harder. Some schools send students home with backpacks full of food to share with their families. Ask your school if you can contribute to their weekend meals. Start your own weekend meal plan if they haven’t already.

Pencils Pushers
School supplies can be deceivingly expensive. Remember your shock when buying your own, or purchasing a graphing calculator for your teenager? Imagine how much harder those purchases would be as the head of a low-income family.

Participate in—or organize—school supply drives in your community. Donate graphing calculators or other gently used items your kids don’t use anymore. You can even donate your family’s old computer or textbooks to the school library—it’s the sole homework resource for many your learners.

Buttons and Hems
Uniforms turn out to be less expensive in the long run than non-uniform school clothing. But for a number of families the initial investment is still too steep.

Schools that require uniforms almost always collect gently used ones that they can distribute to low-income families. Launder your kids’ too-small plaids and button-downs then give them to their less fortunate classmates. Donate gently used clothes to your local thrift store if you don’t have uniforms to spare. You’ll help the students in your neighborhood stay warm as the weather cools.

Changing seasons are inspiring because they remind us of different groups who rely on our help. Let the coming autumn inspire you to help students in your community this week.

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