I met with the director and program coordinator of Bienestar in early August to discuss potential volunteer projects I could help set up through Hands on Greater Portland. At some point during the meeting, we talked about school supplies and they told me that they have kids who go to school with no backpacks, no supplies, but who are eager to attend school every day regardless.
You know how sometimes you just say things based on emotion and don't really think it through completely? That happened during this meeting - I opened my mouth and I said, "I will find a backpack and supplies for every child in your four homework clubs! And have ten volunteers show up to stuff the bags!" We are talking about 99 kids! It just seemed like the right thing - kids should not start school without the supplies needed. Especially kids who are dedicated enough to want to learn that they take part in the homework club, which requires the kids provide their progress report card every month to the homework club teachers, who closely monitor their grades and work with their teachers in school to ensure they are on the right track to succeed in their grade. Kids who are willing to do that deserve to have a good start to their school year.
And so I set up a date for a volunteer project with volunteers from Hands On Greater Portland and left the meeting...and then it hit me....what did I just do?? 99 backpacks? AND supplies?? And I only had 3.5 weeks to do it.
Did I mention I'm not wealthy? No, I'm a single mom. Typically, just by definition, that equals: low on money. And while I don't consider myself poor, I certainly do not have the means to provide what I just offered. So I did what most people would do: ask every human they meet to donate. And in this case....it worked! It actually happened. I did get a local Best Buy store who happened to be looking for a place to donate and volunteer, and it was as if magic happened. My friends, family, the company I work for and the company my friend Alison works for came up with half the backpacks and about 3/4 of the supplies needed to fill them. Best Buy came through with the other half of the bags and the other 1/4 of the supplies. And we DID IT!!!
The kids all were so excited with the amount of supplies we had!
They helped us unload the cars - trip after trip, giggling the entire time. It was so great that they were able to be a part of it!
They also helped us sort all the backpacks by what grade level they thought each bag was. They took it very seriously, but really enjoyed it. It was a much better system then having the adult volunteers sort them out!.