As summer draws to a close, many Americans may be looking to do some back-to-school shopping, even if they don’t have kids.
Thanks to the pathetic priorities of our state and federal governments, school teachers frequently have to spend their own small salaries on classroom supplies or basic amenities, like these Baltimore teachers hoping for fans to cool their spaces. It’s not just teachers struggling to make ends meet. Families across the country are trying to pay the bills while loading up on new three-ring binders, new No. 2 pencils, new college-ruled paper, and new protractors, to say nothing of graphing calculators.
There are a lot of big, unwieldy, anxiety-inducing problems facing the world right now, but sending a kid to school with a new backpack and sharp pencils to start the year off right is a lot easier to manage than solving global warming on your lunch break. Local schools and churches will frequently run back-to-school programs, but if you’re looking for something even easier, here are nine other ways to help this back-to-school season:
- Donors Choose: This website lets teachers make lists of all the supplies they need. Either search locally, pick a project you love (like books for libraries, fidget toys, or STEM tools), or just choose a worthy classroom to be the recipient of your largesse—like this one in Massachusetts, this one in Chicago, or this one in Georgia.
- Operation Backpack: The program connects children in need with new backpacks filled with grade-specific school supplies and supports after-school and mentoring programs for kids throughout the United States.
- Kids in Need Foundation works to help kids and classrooms get all the supplies they need. If you can’t donate cash through its School Ready Supplies program that delivers school supplies directly to students, consider donating services like marketing skills, printing, or shipping services.
- United Way: Across the country, this organization’s outposts work to send kids to school with backpacks full of all the necessary supplies. Each branch operates independently, so the easiest way to donate locally is to google United Way and your community or just choose an area in need—like this one in Dallas, this one in Mississippi, and this one in North Carolina.
- Pencils of Promise: It’s not just U.S. kids who need school supplies. This organization helps kids around the world through its programs, and 100% of donations go directly to its good work.
- Operation Homefront: Help the child of a member of the military head back to school with all the supplies they need. Or visit one of the more than 60 Back-to-School Brigade events across the U.S.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America: This organization runs an annual Back2School program that raises money specifically to benefit students by offering supplies, funding after-school programs, and more. To help, visit one of their partners, which this year range from the Gap to Chuck E. Cheese to Toyota to Comcast to Coca-Cola, all of which are either donating supplies, having their staff volunteer, or engaging the public to participate.
- Coalition For the Homeless: According to this group’s website, nearly 115,000 New York City school kids experienced homelessness at some point last year. The organization takes donations of money or supplies to help kids in unstable housing have the supplies they need for school.
- #ClearTheLists: A new viral campaign is helping donors connect with teachers in need through the hashtag #ClearTheLists on Facebook and Twitter. The campaign was started by Courtney Jones, who wanted to give the public the opportunity to donate money and supplies to teachers across the country by buying everything on their Amazon wish lists, posting a video to YouTube about the project. The idea went viral and was boosted by country artist Casey Donahew, who created a GoFundMe page to help pay for more supplies. To get involved, search the #clearthelists hashtag on social media.