The first day of school is August 21. Thousands of Central Texas students, their parents and teachers are hoping that, somehow, they’ll have school supplies on the first day. Hoping.
Because in Central Texas, more than 157,000 of the 342,000 students are considered low-income, according to the latest numbers from the E3 Alliance. That means they come from families that most likely qualify to get a discount on a $2.30 lunch. So if lunch is a struggle, imagine how hard it must be to spend $35 per child on school supplies.
And as we’ve reported in the past, when families can’t provide enough school supplies, it’s usually teachers who do.
In 2015, a study by the National School Supply and Equipment Association (now Education Market Association) showed that across America, teachers spend almost $500 a year — of their own money — on supplies for their classrooms and students.
The solution is so easy, guys.
We say this every year, but it bears repeating: Your donation of dollars and/or supplied is extremely meaningful. Many of the organizations below can make your donations stretch a long ways, so please gather your friends, co-workers, neighbors and family to contribute.
Want to make the most impact? Follow these four suggestions:
1. Monetary donations are better than donations of actual school supplies. Many of these organizations like For The Children can purchase school supplies in bulk, so your donation of $20 will go a lot further.
2. That being said, if you have a crate of glue sticks to unload, by all means donate them. Remember that name brands count for some teachers and schools, so if you can spring for the Crayola brand, that helps. Just remember to donate a gift, not a burden.
3. If you miss one of these school supply drives, consider giving directly to a school. Most schools offices open back up the second week of August for teacher orientations and trainings. Call the office in the morning to ask about when you can drop them off.
4. Consider volunteering as well. While your group really wants to collect a big pile of school supplies, you might also consider signing up for distribution days. Lots of opportunities below.
NEED SCHOOL SUPPLIES? First, call 2-1-1 on your phone. They are a free service that can connect you to help in your area. You can also contact your school (try the second week of August). They can either let you know if you qualify for school supplies or direct you to an organization that can help.
This is our sixth year making this list, and it’s more popular every time because this is one of those problems that is so easy to solve. Please find a way to give!
FOR THE CHILDREN
Since it was started in 1988, For the Children has provided school supplies for more than 930,000 Central Texas students and hopes to provide supplies for 56,000 kids this year.
DONATE: While the average cost for one kid’s school supplies can be between $25 – $40, you donations to For the Children can go much further. A one time gift of $25 will support 7 students, $50 will support 14 students, $100 will support 28 students. Also worth considering: a $10 recurring monthly gift will help 40 students each school year. Click here to make your donation. You might also consider joining their “Crayon Club”, which allows you to join at levels between $700 to $3500 and designate the funds to a specific school. Learn more about Crayon Club here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit the new For the Children website.
MANOS DE CRISTO – JULY 24-28
For approximately 20 years, Austin nonprofit Manos de Cristo has held its Back-to-School program, which helps thousands of Central Texas children, Pre-K through 5th grades each year. The program prepares 2,000 low-income students for the school year by providing each child with two sets of new clothing, socks, underwear, and a brand new backpack filled with school supplies. This year, help from the community is needed to continue the program. The Program costs the nonprofit $60,000; they are looking for funding to ensure the program can continue.
DONATE: Just $60 per child underwrites the cost to provide a child with two new sets of clothing, socks, underwear, and a brand new backpack filled with age appropriate school supplies. To make a donation, visit Manos Back to School Program.
VOLUNTEER: Manos’ Annual Back-to-School distribution day will be held July 24-28, at the Allan Center, 4900 Gonzalez St, Austin, 78702. Sign up via Volunteer Spot for shifts: Morning 8:00 a.m. – 11 a.m. shift or afternoon shift from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Opportunities include welcoming clients, entertaining children, helping students select clothing and supplies, and cleaning up. They’d love someone to volunteer to take photo or video and bilingual volunteers to help with registration.
PICK UP SCHOOL SUPPLIES: July 24 – 27, 8 am – 2 pm, or Friday, July 28, 8 am – 11 am, while supplied last, at Allan Elementary School, 4900 Gonzales St., Austin, TX 78702 (Bus options: #4-Montopolis or #350-Airport Blvd.) Families in need begin lining up as early as 3:00 a.m. for the first come, first served back to school clothing and supplies. Community volunteers will help 400 children each day through the program.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit Manos de Cristo, or contact Lily Lombardi at 512-628-4202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOUNDATION COMMUNITIES – JULY 24-28
Foundation Communities provides after-school and summer learning programs for 700 students at 12 on-site learning centers across Austin. Its school-supply drive helps provide backpacks and school supplies to all 700 kids.
DONATE: Drop off donations at the Community Financial Center at 2600 West Stassney, Austin 78745, on Friday, July 28, between 9 am – 5 pm. They’re looking for new backpacks, glue, supply box, pencils, rulers, markers… the works.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit Foundation Communities or contact Jackie Blair at email@example.com.
COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS – JULY 29
DONATE: More than 1,000 Communities In Schools (CIS) students will need school supplies when school starts back. Children who face challenges such as poverty, violence, homelessness, and hunger shouldn’t have the added burden of starting school without basic supplies. You can help! Your donation of less than $20 will provide a CIS student with a backpack and supplies. Click here to donate. Donations can also be dropped off at the CIS Central Office located at 3000 South IH-35, Suite 200, 78704, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Accepting donations until July 31, 2017.
Supplies will be distributed on the campuses where CIS has programming (63 in Central Texas) for students enrolled in CIS. To find out if your child’s has CIS program at his or her school, contact your school’s office.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Communities in Schools of Central Texas
AUSTIN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT – AUGUST 12
On August 12, Austin ISD will host the 11th annual Back to School Bash Celebration and Safety Fair from 9 a.m.–noon at the Palmer Events Center. Almost 150 community and district organizations will offer exhibits for AISD families to learn more about the services and programs that can help students enjoy a safe and successful school year. More than 11,000 people are expected to attend and AISD is providing free shuttles that run every 30-45 minutes from locations throughout Austin.
VOLUNTEER: AISD raises money to purchase the supplies via corporate sponsorships, but volunteers are needed on the day of the event to help with crowd control, lost and found, and other strategic areas. Interested volunteers should send an email to Griselda Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PICK UP SCHOOL SUPPLIES: Free backpacks of school supplies will be available to students in Austin ISD, while supplies last. The event will also offer presentations on safety and educational best practices; nurses from Dell Children’s/AISD Health Services to provide free vaccinations (families must present student shot records), and Kids Vision for Life Central Texas to provide free vision exams and eyeglasses.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit AISD Back to School Bash
BASTROP BACK TO SCHOOL BASH AND STUFF THE BUS – AUGUST 12
The annual event will provide 1,500 backpacks loaded with school supplies and will take place on Saturday, August 12, at the BISD Memorial Stadium in Cedar Creek, first with the Stuff the Bus distribution of supplies at 8 AM followed by the Bash through 10:30 AM.
DONATE: Donations of school supplies are being accepted at the Bastrop ISD Service Center, HEB Plus! and other locations. View the site for the full list.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit BISD Back to School Bash
ROUND ROCK PARTNERS IN EDUCATION FOUNDATION – AUGUST 17
DONATE: Round Rock ISD currently has over 13,000 students who qualify for free basic school supplies. Monetary donations are now being accepted for Round Rock Partners in Education Foundation. Donation levels are designed to meet both corporate and individuals’ giving budgets. Individuals might want to “adopt” a student ($10 per child) so they may receive a bag of new school supplies. Donate here.
VOLUNTEER: Volunteer opportunities are available to pack supplies (August 17-18) and assist with distribution and other activities at School Supply Sunday (August 20), taking place at Hernandez Middle School, 1901 Sunrise Dr., Round Rock, 78664. There are 2 shifts for each volunteer area. Sign up on Volunteer Spot.
PICK UP SUPPLIES: The Round Rock ISD Partners in Education Foundation, Round Rock ISD, and the Round Rock Police Department are hosting the School Supplies Sunday – Kuts 4 Kids Event, sponsored byRound Rock ISD Partnership in Education Foundation, Dream Big Foundation, and the Round Rock Police Foundation. School supply distribution will be held August 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hernandez Middle School. Students who attend RRISD will receive a free haircut, free school supplies, free food and free health/wellness checks while supplies last. The event is free and will include live entertainment and information about community services.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Marianne Reap, at 512-464-5600, or visit Round Rock Education Fund.
HINDU CHARITIES FOR AMERICA & JEWISH FEDERATION OF GREATER AUSTIN – AUGUST 13
VOLUNTEER: The school supplies have been ordered and will be packed on Sunday, August 13, starting at 11 am at Dell Jewish Community Campus on 7300 Hart Lane, 78731. The schools will pick up the supplies. The organizations raised funds for school supplies for more than 1,400 homeless children in Del Valle, Manor and Austin ISDs. Light refreshments will be provided and there will be some activities for the kids. Children, adults and seniors invited.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 512.994.4638 or visit Hindu Charities for America.
SAFEPLACE BACK-TO-SCHOOL DRIVE – AUGUST 21
DONATE: It would be great to have donations before school starts on August 21, SafePlace will accept donations through the end of August . All donations will go to the students living in our Emergency Shelter and Supportive Housing Units, and are also available to the children who participate in SafePlace counseling programs, or whose parents are part of counseling and prevention programs.
Donations of supplies may be dropped off at SafePlace’s Donations Warehouse or you can view their Amazon Wishlist to have them sent directly.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit SafePlace to see the list of supplied needed and learn where to drop them off.
SALVATION ARMY BACK TO SCHOOL DRIVE – JULY 1 – AUG 31
Salvation Army hosts more than 100 children in their emergency shelters in Austin, many of whom arrive at the shelters with just the clothes on their backs. You can help provide the supplies and clothes they need to start school better.
DONATE: Any amount helps. Your dollars go to buy tissues and colors, socks and jeans, and everything in between. Click here to donate.
VOLUNTEER: Host a school supply drive! Send an email to VolunteerAustin@uss.salvationarmy.org or call 512-604-5910 before August 1 to arrange it.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit Salvation Army Back to School Drive
Thanks for this lovely photo of kids from Manos de Cristo!