I have four kids in elementary school this year. Do you know how much I spent on school supplies? It was… alarming, and just a tad overwhelming to fulfill the lists for each class. But you know what? My kids – their backpacks bursting with fresh paper and markers – were excited about going back to school! They took pride in writing their names on the pencil boxes and binders. This simple act of ownership helped them transition into a new school year – a season that carries much uncertainty for kids in foster care.
Last month ATS Automation, a Renton, Washington company, hosted a school supply drive among their employees. Supplies were delivered to the DCYF office in South Seattle, just after Labor Day. I’ll be honest, the OMD program in this office has struggled. It serves one of the poorest, most diverse neighborhoods in all of Washington, and we can’t seem to keep the spark alive there. Our volunteers and social workers carry enormous weight there, so a simple donation of school supplies feels like a gift. It’s one less thing our social workers need to acquire for the kids on their caseload.
This seemingly simple gesture is huge, and here’s why. At OMD we’re not just about providing basic necessities to children entering foster care, we’re about building dignity and self worth in kids who have had their whole lives upended. There is dignity in having a pencil box with your own name on it. There is dignity in being able to contribute to the classroom markers collection.
Do not underestimate the value of your small gifts- whether you give stuff, time or money. If you give from the abundance of your heart, it will surely be repaid to you. To those of us who enjoy security in life, a heavy backpack is a minor inconvenience; but to a child with a heavy heart, that same backpack means something so much more.