This time of year, it’s not uncommon to find many parents of school-aged children bemoaning the school supply shuffle. And who can blame them? Having three of my own to buy supplies for, it can really add up! So we are always appreciative of those who post where the best sales are available, and for those who choose to make this a time of fun and celebration! And for all those teachers out there, who use their last summer paycheck to purchase extra supplies for students you’re about to serve, we see you, too! May God bless you back in infinite ways for your sacrificial giving! As an educator and parent, I see all sides, and understand the varied emotions that the back to school season elicits!
As an eternal optimist, I am constantly looking for positive people and ideas. So when I saw my youngest sister’s post today on her social media account, it inspired me to use my voice, that He gave me, to remind us we can be a blessing for people we may not know, children and their parents, who for whatever reason, aren’t able to purchase school supplies for their child/ren.
I’ve seen my sister’s posts in the past, but today when I saw my beautiful niece posing with the backpack that she willingly filled for another child, it blessed me. Every year, their local church adopts up to four elementary schools and one middle school to help. My sister, Megan, a successful single parent, and her daughter, Jazzy, have made it a tradition to choose to find school supplies for a female student in the same grade as Jazz. However, this year, as Jazzy begins her freshman year in high school, she decided she wanted to shop for a fifth grader. As a fifth grade teacher for many years now, it’s no wonder this caught my eye and heart. This has been a seven year tradition for Jazzy and Megan. As a young adult, Jazzy still gets excited about it, and even picked out matching notebooks so she and the unknown fifth grade girl would be “connected in a way.”
What a tradition to pass down! Megan, and all other parents who do this, you are doing it right! As a single parent, I’m sure the financial burden feels greater, so giving in this way is even more sacrificial. My sister is teaching her daughter to give to others, even when it hurts your own pocketbook, and to give without expecting to get back. She’s also growing her daughter to be empathetic to the needs of others, and the desire to be connected, as Jazzy put it, will actually contribute to her willingness to be part of her community in a way our nation needs more now than ever!
As a teacher who sees how students feel when they don’t have all the necessary items, I am so excited for this child to know that she doesn’t have to feel isolated or any shame for not having enough. Her parents can send their daughter to school knowing she has all the necessary supplies for a great start and also a knowledge that there is a community of people who do care for them, even if they have never met.
I hope this story will inspire us all, as we find ourselves doing the school supply shuffle, once again. Some of us, who are financially able, instead of dreading it, let’s be inspired to partner with our churches or community outreach programs to bless a child outside of our own family. And for those of us who may not have young children in our lives, maybe this is just the thing for us to do to feel connected with our community. Wherever you find yourself in all of this, it’s always good to give backpack. 😉