The back-to-school blitz will soon be upon us. Sales are already popping up, along with ads showcasing the latest school fashions and trends.
But not everyone can jump on the back-to-school buying spree. Not every family can afford the latest, newest trends, let alone the seemingly lifetime supply of hand sanitizer, dry erase markers, copy paper, sandwich bags, tissues, paper towels and baby wipes that a well-equipped classroom goes through each year. Luckily, there are many ways to help our neighbors — and in some cases reduce waste — during this time of year. Sure, many people consider the “giving season” to be in winter, but teachers and students appreciate school supplies year-round.
WISH Cleveland has rounded up some organizations running drives for both new and used school supplies. So here’s your chance to pick up a few extra crayons and reams of paper this year, and give back.
Caring Cubs Annual Fundraiser and School Supply Drive
Sunday 7/28 from 5 – 8pm at Ben & Jerry’s, University Heights
Even the youngest family member can make a difference with Caring Cubs, an organization run by local parents with a focus on getting the youngest kids involved in service projects. The group is hosting its annual school supply drive at Ben & Jerry’s in University Heights (20650 North Park Blvd).
“Caring Cubs has hosted a school supply service project for many years,” says Kelly Rudloff, board secretary. “Because our volunteers are children themselves, they are personally aware of the importance of school supplies for academic success. Our parents are already shopping for their own children, and this is an easy and meaningful way for them to teach their children about giving back and helping others.”
All items will be donated to Shoes and Clothes for Kids (SC4K) and their Kids in Need Resource Center, which allows teachers to “shop” for kids in their classrooms.
They are asking for new glue sticks, pencils, and 24 packs of crayons because, according to Rudloff, “they are some of the most needed items at the Kids in Need Resource Center.”
“There are many great programs that help local students, but the Cleveland Kids in Need Resource Center, operated by SC4K, is unique in that the teachers are shopping for free for their students in need,” says Rudloff. “SC4K is the only non-profit organization in Greater Cleveland providing new shoes, school uniforms, clothes and school supplies throughout the year at no charge to thousands of children in need.”
A portion of Ben & Jerry’s proceeds that night will also benefit Caring Cubs.
Help a Foster Child
Children living in protective custody possess few of their personal belongings, forcing them to start over in more ways than one. Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services accepts donations of new school supplies for kids in preschool all the way through high school. Accepted items include books, hygiene products (an often overlooked necessity for going back to school, especially for older kids), bookbags, clothes, services (haircuts, etc.), and other general supplies. New items are preferred though some used clothing may be accepted. Visit their website to fill out their donation form to get started.
Stuff the Bus(es)
Perhaps you’ve heard the many rally cries to “stuff the bus.” Whether you’re in Lake County, Cuyahoga, or beyond, chances are a Stuff the Bus event is being held near you. Local news station Fox 8 is collecting new school supplies from 7am – 7pm on Friday, August 9, at its news station. This drive is immensely popular — according to Fox 8 News, in 2018, it filled 14 school buses full of supplies for the Cleveland Kids in Need Resource Center.
In Lake County, Great Lakes Mall, Laketran and The News-Herald host their own Stuff the Bus event on multiple days, ending on Sunday, July 28. Donations will be given to Lake County Salvation Army, which will distribute them at its Back to School Bash. Look for the Laketran bus parked near Pandora to bring your donations. New and or gently-used clothing will also be accepted.
When You Have an Abundance of Notebooks and Pencils Laying Around…
Not every donated item needs to be new. If you’re like me, you’ve amassed a collection of notebooks and writing utensils that you can’t possibly use up. Sure, they’re not brand new, but they haven’t really been used much either. The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District will point you in the right direction for donating “gently used” items. Scroll through donation locations on their website.
When You Don’t Have Anything to Donate and Aren’t in the Mood to Shop for School Supplies…
United Way of Lake County allows you to donate one or multiple backpacks full of supplies via online money donation. https://www.classy.org/campaign/stuff-the-bus-2019/c229881