At Seymour school, we are fortunate to be surrounded by a diverse group of learners that each enrich the lives of all of us. We have different stories, different histories and different ideas. We all learn constantly from each other.
The reality is is that some of us are at times struggling financially or otherwise and could use some assistance. We learn in our classrooms about being mindful of others, about how to be generous, how to be compassionate and how to be aware. Sometimes I get questions about how to help in both small and big ways. There are so many answers to that very important question but I will try and share just a few here. There are many ways to help, think about what speaks to you.
- If you or your children attend a different school, think beyond your school community. If you get a request for kleenex boxes for the classroom, you can bet other classrooms across the city need kleenex boxes. Drop off an 8 pack to a school that might need it. If your school is asking for money for field trip expenditures, ask your PAC to help fundraise and donate transportation or admission costs to another school that may not have the same means to amass funds. You get the idea.
- Involve your friends. Organize ideas, plans and the “nitty gritty” how to. If you want to help a school have fresh fruit snacks once a week, do it! Dropping off bags of apples is wonderful but they will need to be washed, sliced, and distributed. Could your idea be completely carried out by your group? Contact a school for permission, pitch them the plan. Show up every week with chopped fruit on trays and hands to distribute them. Even more amazing.
- Give of yourself. Many schools need readers and amazing, committed volunteers. They may not have the volunteers in their own communities. The Big Brothers Program needs male and female “in school” mentors. An hour a week of your time in school hours to connect with a child will change your life. Really.
- Every child needs books in home and in hand. Books for children birth to age 5 often are absent in homes of many of our children. Are your children finished with their beloved board books? Call up Family Places, Neighbourhood Houses, Schools that have Strong Start programs. Could someone pass on your donated books to a family?
Some more ideas? That might involve money?
- Some students from inner city schools are accepted to District programs at schools that do not have a hot lunch program. Some families turn down the placement exactly for this reason. Is there a district class at your school (or a neighbouring school) that could pass on gift cards (donated by you) to Buy Low, Superstore, etc. to families that may need to supplement the grocery budget?
- Many inner city schools have amazing athletes and sports programs organized by dedicated staff. Some of these young athletes could benefit from additional involvement in community or summer sports programs and some help with the equipment. Could you contact a school and help fund a student’s lessons/registration fees and equipment (i.e. soccer cleats or running shoes)
- Young students have big dreams. Are you able to help contribute to a RESP fund for a student? Many schools could help put you in touch with families. As could Community Centres. Scholarship funds, even small ones, have impact.
- Many students in inner city schools benefit from Speech and Language therapy, Play therapy, Music Therapy, Art Therapy and Counselling. For families that cannot afford to pay for this privately, the only opportunity for service is through the schools. Not all schools have all of these services. Sometimes they do because of private donors. Schools are given staffing according to school population. It doesn’t take much to figure out that an inner city school would have more need even if it has a small population. More need and less service. Does that make sense to you? Make your opinion heard. Be vocal and/or be generous. Offer to fund the services of a therapist for a specific school. Even if it is for part of a day. Challenge your friends to get involved. See what happens.
*Please note that if you do want to make a monetary donation to a school, tax receipts can be issued.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Do you have more ideas? Please post them in the comment section.