Back to School Shopping for a Cause #BagItForward #CBias

Back to school is a pretty joyous time in our household... Robyn is excited about finally being a high schooler  and Liam is looking forward to getting to ride on the bus again and we are fortunate that we have enough money to get everything on the school supply list and even a few extras and new school clothes, but here in South Carolina, many families don't have that luxury - in the most recent figures I could find (2008) said that nearly 60% of students in South Carolina are on free or reduced lunch, meaning their families don't often have money for extras like school supplies.  Across the nation, more than 31 million students from low-income families receive free or reduced-price school lunches. 

On top of that, the supplies provided by schools and school boards seem to constantly be shrinking... when I went to school in Ontario, all we had to buy for the first day of school was a book bag... now, even the kindergarten supply list has cleaning supplies and over 20 other items on it!  If a child can't provide these items, the burden falls, not to the school but to the teachers themselves to provide the bare necessities.  According to Teachers spend an average of $356 out-of-pocket on quality school supplies every single year. Many spend up to $1500 just to provide basic classroom necessities.

What is sad about this is that it’s been proven that having quality supplies is important to building a child’s confidence and self-esteem  which, in turn, supports educational accomplishments.  Kids who don't have the tools they need to succeed are already at a disadvantage... which is why the Elmer’s #BagItForward Simple Service Party Campaign is so near and dear to my heart!  

With everything going on this past week with Wayne's health and everything, I actually piggybacked on Heather from Rather Be Changing Diapers' fabulous playdate and put a call out to friends and family that I was collecting school supplies for a fabulous organization here in Charleston called The Teacher's Supply Closet!  

Teachers' Supply Closet (TSC) is a non-profit organization that provides free school supplies to teachers in the Tri-County area who work at schools where 88 percent of the students are on the free or reduced lunch program.
To supply the store, donations of school supplies, new and gently used office and art supplies, excess inventory, slightly damaged merchandise, and tradeshow products, are accepted, and everything is made available to teachers for use in the classroom.
Currently 34 schools at the 88% poverty index (based on free and reduced lunch program statistics) from Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties are invited to shop. 
Through Collective Bias, I was able to head out and pick up some extra school supplies at Walmart to increase my own donation!  We also shopped for a few last minute things for the kids own back to school needs!

You can check out the whole shop on google +, but the one thing I can tell you is that the deals at Walmart were so good that we had trouble finding everything on our list... it was all scooped up!

I did find a fun app to download to celebrate the First Day of School while I was searching for our school's supply lists with Robyn!  Check out the 1st Day App download  The only problem with apps and our Walmart is that it's built in a cell phone dead zone, but I had fun playing with the app once I was back out in the 3G world!

The favorite thing that I found was a great back to school kit, perfect for donating!  It's put together by Champions for Kids and includes a whole kit of great basic things that every kid needs for back to school!  I also picked up some tissues, more glue, some sharpies for teacher and of course - disinfecting wipes - what every classroom seems to need these days!

When I got to the Teacher's Supply Closet, I was able to meet with one of the two staff people that keep the place running with help from a small army of volunteers who gave me a tour and let me know that their biggest need right now is children's safety scissors!

The Teacher's Supply Closet is currently working with the principals of eligible schools to register all of their teachers and then the teachers will be able to book a time to come and 'shop' for everything their classes need - they have all the basic supplies and then additional goodies like books, prizes, science supplies and even seasonal decor for bulletin boards!  This is such a great resource for our community and teachers will leave with an average of over $600 in supplies when they shop!

I'm so glad that I was able to collect and distribute supplies to The Teacher's Closet through the program!  Check out more photos and info on my Google Plus Album!  Please like Elmer’s on Facebook, follow Elmer’s on Twitter and check out Bag It Forward on Pinterest.

Don't forget to download the 1st Day App for your phone too! 

Disclaimer: “I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and and Elmer’s.  #BagItForward #CBias #SocialFabric”