Yesterday, I pushed my red cart through the newly stocked aisle of school supplies for our preliminary perusal. We usually look at least once before actually get down to the nitty-gritty of the real purchase. We make our list of needs (from the school issued list) and our list of wants (from our own imagination) and fill up a cart and celebrate the start of school with new notebooks and markers and pens and pencil cases.
There really is nothing better than the smell of a fresh, never been written in notebook. School supply shopping is like Christmas. In July.
As we rounded the corner, the entire school supply area could hear one particular lady loosing it about the amount of supplies requested from her child’s elementary school. With her Venti-Starbucks latte in one hand and designer handbag over her shoulder, she proceeded to complain for five minutes about having to buy eight glue sticks.
Seriously? They are 23 cents a piece.
Now, I’m not knocking Starbucks. Or designer handbags. Or new clothes. We have all that, too. And you can spend your money the way you want – and you aren’t required to buy those glue sticks. But there is a reason why they are on the list. It’s not to drive you crazy, I promise. It’s because the kid that sits next to yours in class this year, may not be able to afford it.
I know that it’s hard to see through the Halloween treat bags and books for the Christmas book exchange and candy for the Valentines. But some people just can’t afford to send their kids to school with supplies (let alone new clothes, lunch boxes, backpacks or shoes). And on those special occasions where there are gifts or candy or something exchanged, these kids are not left out because other parents provide. And when those other parents don’t provide, the teacher provides.
The same is true for pencils, pens, markers, paper. And glue sticks.
It does seem a little absurd – Clorox wipes and a 10-pack of Kleenex. But that’s because there is a need. Because once winter comes, your kid’s teacher wants to keep the classroom as sanitary and germ free as possible. Because teachers have been furloughed or instructional money is now being spent in other ways. There are kids sitting in your son’s class who have parents that have lost jobs and homes and just can’t afford anything extra. And school supplies are extra.
That school supply list asks for an extra box of crayons because your kid’s teacher is spending her money buying snacks so that everyone has enough to eat. Or providing soap and deodorant. Or stocking up on books so that a little kid isn’t left out at the Holiday Party. And yes, you are being asked to buy that kid a glue stick and a pair of scissors and your son is expected to share his crayons because the girl in the desk next to him has a single mother that works two jobs to make ends meet and two brothers that needed school supplies, too, and a new pair of shoes. So they are using last year’s notebook because there was still good paper in it.
Your kid threw his away the last week of school.
Not everyone gets to pick out Ninja Turtle lunch boxes – they eat at school for free. And the only way that this will change is if these kids are educated. And the only way they can be educated is if they are prepared. And the only way to be prepared is to have supplies.
And the only way to have supplies is if you invest in the future of your community and provide them.
So invest not just in your own kid, but in your community of kids. The kids that will grow up with yours, influencing them and leading them.
Buy the extra glue stick.