Weapons of Mass Instruction

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.  – Nelson Mandela

I am the daughter of a hard-working, single mother – who also happens to be an educator. My mom was the kind of teacher who drove one of her students, now a college music professor, back and forth to teach beginner guitar. She also invited students to holiday meals when they didn’t have anywhere else to go. I know that an extra seat at the table and gift under the tree (or $100 in school supplies) would have likely required some serious financial juggling on her part. So even when my budget is tight, I try to buy a few extra items on the wish list in appreciation for the teachers who go above and beyond what their personal budget and job description might entail.

I keep hearing parents lament the idea that we have to buy “enough to share” these days, but the truth is that no one is checking your kid’s backpack and counting pencils. So if you can’t swing it, I’m the first one to say “let go of the guilt” and just buy what you can. If you decide to send in an extra box of crayons or Kleenex, this is still an investment in your child’s future. Instead of worrying about who has a pencil, notebook or gluestick, teachers who start the year with a cabinet full of supplies feel supported by the parents of their students, and they are fully prepared to jump in and get started with more important things.

I want all the children in my son’s or daughter’s classroom to have what they need – so their teachers can focus on individualized lesson plans, student organized learning and discovery time. Our kids can’t afford for us to be mad that schools don’t cover the cost of supplies like they used to. Honestly, that’s the least of our worries when it comes to America’s educational system.

I’d much rather see a tight school budget stretch to include more counselors, music programs, instruments, art teachers, technology and field trips than highlighters and composition notebooks. School supplies are one of the simplest, most affordable ways to invest directly in our educational system and to make learning a little more accessible to every child. If we want to see a brighter future in America, the first place to start is by arming our future community leaders with the weapons they need to succeed.


Be the change. Each time you stop at the grocery or department store, add one school supply item to your cart – especially when you see them on sale! Donate these items to your child’s school or to a worthy organization like the ones below that were nominated by Good Cause Blog readers. If there’s not a location near you, contact us to make other arrangements.


The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Cleveland has been collecting and distributing school supplies to thousands of needy children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District since 1997.  According to their website,  $17 is all it takes to give a young student a back-to-school care package that includes two spiral notebooks, ruled filler paper, pens, pencils, glues stick, markers, folders, erasers, scissors and more? In addition to their Back-to-School campaign which distributes school supplies to eight food centers throughout Cleveland,  they also provide school supplies in January, when classrooms need to replenished for the rest of the school year and don’t have the money to do so. Donate to St. Vincent’s de Paul Society’s Back to School drive here.

Ohio Guidestone: A non-profit community service organization that partners with Cleveland Metropolitan School District and other agencies to provide a full range of supportive services to at-risk children and families throughout northeast Ohio. Services are provided in the school and in home settings. They also oversee Stepstone Academy, a successful CMSD partnership school in the Central neighborhood. Click here to see a list of their ongoing school supply needs.

Cleveland Kids Book Bank: Whether it’s through school-based programs, little free libraries or literacy initiatives, this non-profit is dedicated to putting more books into the hands of Cleveland kids. Reading is critical to ensure success in school and in life, but two-thirds of low-income families don’t have a single book in the home. Their wish list and book sponsorship opportunities are available here.

Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital: Children who are sick or undergoing cancer treatment miss a lot of school. Your donation can help young patients continue learning and provide some normalcy for children who are impacted by illness. And for an added bonus: M of Hope will give a 10% discount to anyone who donates school supplies to Rainbow Babies and Children’s oncology unit by this Wednesday, August 24th 2016. You can drop items off at the store to receive a discount, or contact The Good Cause Blog to help arrange a more convenient dropoff.

Renee Jones Empowerment Center: A 501(C)3 non-profit organization that fosters opportunities for the disadvantaged. The center defines the disadvantaged as those who have been faced with many adverse challenges, such as poverty, homelessness, teen pregnancy, human trafficking, domestic violence, and drug abuse. The Center’s mission is to empower these individuals to advocate for themselves and to improve their quality of life through personal, social, and professional development. Click here for a list of supplies needed to support the work they are doing.

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