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6 ways to give back during back-to-school season (and all year long)

Ariana DiValentino

Aug 22, 2019

There are a lot of ways for people to give back during back-to-school season, especially if they are hoping to help students get the supplies and assistance they need.

The Kids in Need Foundation and Operation Backpack are two of many organizations that help provide school supplies to children from low-income families.

Schools on Wheels connects volunteer tutors and mentors with students who are experiencing homelessness in a few regions around the US.

Shoes That Fit provides growing kids with athletic shoes so they can be comfortable when playing and learning at school.

Being a student and buying necessary school supplies and other learning essentials can get expensive.

There are a number of organizations that work to help lessen the burden on families, educators, and students at the start of the school year.

Here are some ways you can give back during back-to-school season and all year long.

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The Kids in Need Foundation provides school supplies to students from low-income families

For kids to succeed in school, they oftentimes need a wide array of materials including notebooks, pencils, art supplies, backpacks, and more. Fortunately, a variety of organizations, such as the Kids in Need Foundation (KINF), help provide students from low-income families with necessary school supplies.

Founded in 1995, KINF has a variety of initiatives to distribute school supplies to students who need it and to help teachers keep their classrooms stocked, too.

KINF accepts donations in the form of money, in-kind services, and school supplies. 

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Operation Backpack gives school supplies to NYC children who are living in shelters

Similarly to KINF, Operation Backpack, run by Volunteers of America in the Greater New York area, also provides school supplies to children in need. Its focus is on assisting children living in New York City who are currently residing in homeless shelters or domestic-violence shelters.

You can make a financial donation to Operation Backpack or, depending on where you are located, you can join the Volunteers of America to help Operation Backpack with donation collection, sorting, and other initiatives.

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Schools on Wheels provides academic support to K-12 students who are experiencing homelessness

Students of all ages sometimes need extra help outside of the classroom that teachers and parents may not have the time or resources to provide. Fortunately, organizations like Schools on Wheels (SoW) offer programs that connect kids and teens who are experiencing homelessness with tutors and mentors who can help them get the most out of their education.

SoW has multiple regional factions – in Southern CaliforniaMassachusetts, and Indianapolis – which you can support by providing a monetary donation or gifting school supplies. If you live in one of those areas and are qualified, you can also apply to volunteer as a tutor.

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Shoes That Fit helps give kids new athletic sneakers so they can take on the school day in comfortable shoes

Young school-aged children may grow out of their shoes as often as twice a year and shoes are especially subject to wear and tear when kids are active.

Because of this, organizations like Shoes That Fit (STF) provide new sneakers to kids in need around the country, setting them up to comfortably get to school and participate in physical education and playtime.

You can give back to STF with a cash donation or a gift of new kids’ sneakers. You can also visit the organization’s website to learn how to start a local chapter of STF in your community.

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You can also start your own school-supply drive or fundraising initiative

You can multiply your impact by the size of your community by holding an event to collect school supplies or funds to donate to one of the above organizations or another of your choice.

Start by deciding where you want your contribution to go (to a nonprofit organization, to schools in your city, etc.) and find out what they most need to continue their work of helping students learn.

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DonorsChoose.org helps classrooms raise money for learning tools and education initiatives

In many public schools, dedicated teachers do all that they can to keep their classrooms running and this sometimes includes investing hundreds of dollars of their own money into supplies.

To help offset educators’ costs, the crowdfunding platform DonorsChoose.org lets public-school teachers around the US launch campaigns to fund specific projects at their schools, from basic classroom supplies to special learning tools and opportunities for students.

You can visit the program’s website to search for projects and classrooms to support around the US, including those in your own community. 

Help give kids in every zip code the supplies they need to succeed