Five Simple Ways You Can Support Public Schools (even if you don’t have kids enrolled…or kids at all!)


Life / Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Have you ever thought about how you can support public schools? Even if you don’t have children in school yet—or children at all—you can still support local school systems. Before I get into how, I want to touch on why you may want to.

No matter how you were educated, how you are choosing to educate your children, or what your thoughts are about school systems, there are a few undeniable facts.

  • The largest educational system our country has in place is public school. They are everywhere and while they vary in size and structure, they share the common goal of educating future leaders.
  • Public school teachers tend to be severely underpaid. The amount of effort they pour into educating our children is awe-inspiring, and they fund many of their resources through their own pocket money.
  • In general, public schools tend to struggle to fund their needs. There are a lot of reasons for this and those reasons can vary greatly, so if you are curious about specifics I encourage you to look into your local school system. This lack of funding leads to understaffed schools, overcrowded classrooms, dated equipment and software, fewer field trips for experiential learning, and less access to specialized resources like adolescent therapy and special education.

These problems are widespread and ever-changing, and it will take time and a lot of money to help schools bring about necessary changes. Even so, there are some ways you can help NOW, and they might have a bigger effect than you think.

Collect Box Tops For Education

You know the little symbol on products at the grocery store that looks like this? Box Tops For Education | https://www.boxtops4education.comIf you never paid attention to it, I encourage you to do so now!

If you cut these out and save them, you can bring them to schools and those schools can turn them in for money! By looking closely at each one you can identify an expiration date on the bottom, and the company does take this seriously.

Each Box Top is worth 10 cents, which can really add up when hundreds of people are collecting them. Before you take them to a school, be sure to call the office and see if they participate in this offer.

You can read about the official rules here and see participating products here. You can also enter sweepstakes for your school and see additional offers here.

Alternatively, some schools will be able to participate in similar, local offers. Here in Fort Collins, CO we have a company called Morning Fresh Dairy, which has a program called Caps4Cash. Through Caps4Cash, kids can turn in their milk caps to schools, which can then redeem the milk caps for money from Morning Fresh. To read more about Caps4Cash and see if your school participates, click here.

Donate goods

Do you have old sports equipment, costumes, art supplies, cameras, board games, or instruments that are still in good condition? Check with a school near you to see if they can put your old stuff to good use!

In addition to the items I just mentioned, you can check to see which clubs your local schools have and identify potential needs. If you are going to donate something, do the school a favor and make sure it isn’t broken and doesn’t have any missing pieces.

Another great donation idea is pre-packaged food! Some teachers provide meals for their students whose parents are unable to do so, and granola bars or fruit snacks can be a simple solution. Just make sure the food is pre-packaged so there is no question about it being tampered with. 

Volunteer

Most schools will accept help if you offer it, and the ways you can help are immeasurable!

Maybe they need people to walk kids to school, help groom school grounds, help decorate walls, or repair broken items.

If you have a child enrolled, consider checking with his or her teacher to see if they have any specific classroom needs. When I was growing up, my mom came to my classroom regularly to help the teacher file student work, make copies, or create bulletin boards. It may not have seemed like much, but it was fun to see her at school and I know my teachers appreciated her help!

To see the specific needs your child’s school has, follow their page on Facebook or subscribe to their newsletter through the school’s website.

Now, the volunteer opportunities I mentioned above may not work for your schedule because of a job or other commitment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved. Have you checked to see if your company gives time off for volunteer projects? That’s definitely worth looking into!

A great opportunity to put your skills to work in the classroom is to volunteer for Junior Achievement (JA), a global nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kindergarten to twelfth-grade students achieve economic success by teaching them financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and business readiness through hands-on learning. Sound daunting? It isn’t, I promise!

Junior Achievement provides volunteer training and ALL the lessons and materials you need to be successful in the classroom—no teaching experience necessary. All you have to do is prepare each lesson and its materials before you visit the classroom, and the rest comes naturally!

I’ve taught many JA programs myself, and I always have fun. I have countless letters from students and teachers thanking me for the time I spent in their classrooms. The time commitment for JA ranges from one hour to a full school day, so it is very flexible and easy to work your schedule around.

Click here to find your local JA office and see what volunteer needs you can fill!

Participate in school fundraisers

I bet you just read that headline and inwardly groaned a little. I know, there are SO. MANY. FUNDRAISERS. Kids are constantly knocking on our door asking us to support their school or another cause by buying wrapping paper or funny-shaped pasta, and it’s so easy to find a reason to say no.

Before you let that little two-letter word slip out of your lips, consider why the kid is asking. Is it a worthy cause? And if so, are you truly unable to help or do you just not want to?

Recently we received a request to renew a subscription or begin a magazine subscription to help a young friend earn TIME for Kids for her school. We don’t get any magazines and really have no interest in doing so, but we wanted to help her out.

We ended up finding friends who were interested in receiving a couple magazines, so we purchased subscriptions on their behalf. Even though we keep a pretty tight budget at our house, we felt it was worth sparing $30 to help her earn TIME for Kids. We were so glad we found a way to help her out!

Sponsor a family or pay off student debts

Yes, grade-schoolers can accumulate debts over time, or rather, their families can.

Some families can’t afford to buy school lunch for their kids and the kid tries to get school lunch anyway because they are hungry, and BOOM, debt accumulates. I cannot even tell you the stories I’ve heard about how families just can’t afford to feed all their kids three nutritional meals a day, and these poor students rack up debt with the school simply by trying to stay fed. It’s so disheartening, and there are bigger issues there that I won’t get into in this post.

The bottom line is that sometimes lunch debts are avoidable and sometimes they aren’t. Another way students can incur debt is by losing library books or just not returning them because they love them so much. If you have the financial means to, consider going to the front office at a local school and offering to pay off these debts.

Alternatively, you can consider sponsoring a family in need by paying for services they are unable to afford. Maybe they have a son or daughter who wants to participate in sports, but the family can’t afford the fees for their child to get involved.

Maybe the only way a school can provide preschool or all-day kindergarten is to charge families; otherwise students can only attend half-day kindergarten. A great way to help support the school and the family is to pay fees for those who are unable.

There you have it: five simple ways to support local schools, and three of them don’t even cost money! If you have the time or the financial means, consider supporting your local school system in one of the ways above. Know of any other ways you can help out? I’d love to hear from you!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not sponsored by any schools or organizations mentioned. The data shared in this post comes from my personal experiences in schools in Northern Colorado and Wyoming due to my job, which requires me to work closely with public and private schools. All references to families in need or school needs have truth behind them, as I’ve seen or heard about them. If anyone would like further clarification or more information, I am happy to connect.

Hello! I am a work-at-home mom to twin girls and a canine. I’m learning what life looks like when you surrender to God. Passionate about parenthood, marriage, and all things coffee!

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4 Replies to “Five Simple Ways You Can Support Public Schools (even if you don’t have kids enrolled…or kids at all!)”

  1. LOVE this so much! I come from a family of educators, so all of this has been ingrained in me since childhood. Thank you so much for sharing with others about how they can get involved.

  2. I tend to think my time to support school fundraisers and programs is over since my girls are now adults. But you’ve given me things to think about. Saying “yes” doesn’t come as easily when we live in a state with SO. MANY. CHILDREN. But I’ll work on it!

    1. That’s an interesting thought! I can understand how the feeling of being obligated to help can go away when your kids aren’t in school anymore. I’m glad this post inspired you to think about helping again!

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