It's that time of year again, back-to-school time. As a child, this time of year was filled with going to the mall with my Aunts and Mom for back-to-school shopping. It was our favorite time of year, besides Christmas and our birthdays, it was the only time of year we got new clothes. Being poor sucked. Our other favorite thing about this time of year was getting school supplies. Having three kids in three different grades made it a bit hard on a single mom not to spend an arm and a leg. We usually ended up buying the school supplies packet from the PTA at school. It wasn't as fun as picking out cool new folders or pencils, but the smell of new school supplies supplies just smells so, new.
A few years ago as the stores were beginning to be crammed with school supplies I had an idea. I decided I would post online on my local Freecycle group offering to purchase one child's school supply list. I didn't want to hear any woah is me stories, I just wanted to help another parent. Maybe a parent like my mom, who could barely make ends meet, but would never ask for help unless it was family. Instead of being surprised by the number of people emailing me to pick them, I was more surprised by the people offering to donate cash, a case of paper, or a box of extra school supplies to help me help more than one child.
I drove around the city to collect the money and supplies the generous people had donated. After I pooled together the donated supplies and the supplies I had bought, I emailed a handful of the respondents to give me their list. A few days after that, I was able to email the parents back letting them know I had bought everything on their child's list and they could meet me at my house to pick them up. A few people looked like single mothers, one lady was a grandparent raising her grandchild, but they were all appreciative. It made my heart feel good. I knew I had done a good job.
I did that for a few years, but the last two years I decided to help someone from my work instead. Both of the ladies were single parents trying to do the best they could with what little they had. I knew which schools they were going to and which grades they were going into. After I went shopping, I put the supplies into bags and placed them at their desks. I didn't even leave my name, just a card saying someone was thinking about them.
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