Growing up and heading back to school was always a little bittersweet. Of course we were never ready to say goodbye to summer, but the joy of shopping for new school supplies certainly helped ease the blow. Who doesn’t remember picking out the perfect new backpack with your favorite characters on it, digging through bin after bin to find notebooks and folders in your favorite colors, and making sure you had top of the line crayons and markers? Shopping for these supplies was a consolation prize for summers that always ended too soon.
However, there are too many kids who don’t get to experience these special shopping trips. For children living in poverty, school supply lists carry more uncertainty than excitement. It isn’t as easy as going to the store and crossing everything off the list. Hand-me-downs and used items are the norm, and buying items with your favorite characters just isn’t an option.
With these children in mind, our True Team decided to spend the month of August “Giving Back to the Kids” as part of our Year of Giving Campaign. Our goal was to make sure that these kids had everything they needed to start a successful new school year. We wanted to support children living in several different areas, and began to research organizations that collected school supplies.
One organization we came across was the Humanitarian Service Project (HSP). This organization was started in the spare room of the founder’s home with a goal of helping families in need during the Christmas season. Today, HSP operates 5 programs aimed at helping both children and senior citizens living in poverty. True decided to specifically support the “School Supply Drive” project that provides school supplies and backpacks to children in DuPage and Kane Counties.
Having met with our friends at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, we knew that there was also a need to support the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. This “medical office on wheels” serves the high risk pediatric populations in Southern Chicago and Northern Illinois. With 2 patient exam rooms, they offer initial health screenings, immunizations, primary care treatment, and referral/follow up appointments for everyday & serious medical needs. The young patients who visit the Care Mobile often do not have the necessary supplies needed to start the school year.
With our two organizations chosen, we compiled a list of some of the most needed items and sent the word out to our Team Members. Everyone was very excited for an excuse to hit up the school supply sales and donations started pouring in right away. Together, the team brought in countless boxes of crayons, all different types of pens and pencils, and enough notebooks and folders for entire classrooms.
In addition to all of the supplies, we also asked people to donate backpacks for children of all ages. This was another fun shopping opportunity for our Team, many of whom enlisted the help of their own children to pick out the perfect backpacks. For the younger kids we had Frozen, Mickey Mouse, and Finding Nemo bags (to name a few). The older kids would be treated to brand new Jansports that will last them for years to come.
With the collection bins scattered throughout our office overflowing, it became clear early on that we needed to set up a larger collection area. We moved everything to our lounge area and before long it looked like our very own Office Depot. We decided to hang the backpacks on coat racks we are hoping we won’t need to use for a few more months.
Since we were supporting two charities this month, we wanted to collect enough items so that each organization received plenty. As more and more items were dropped off, we realized we wouldn’t have to worry at all. The extreme generosity of our Team was evident every time someone arrived to work with a bag full of items. Even brand new Team Members who have only been with True for a few weeks were emailing to see what items were most needed and when they could drop their donations off.
Seeing the display continue to overflow was amazing because we knew that each item donated would bring a smile to a child in need. In total, we collected 45 backpacks and filled three huge collection tubs with all of the most important school supplies. We delivered the items to our two very deserving and appreciative organizations with the knowledge that our Team Members had made it possible for several children to have their best school year yet.