Imagine trying to do math without a pencil?
Or trying to write an English essay without lined paper?
Most of us take these school supplies for granted. But at many New York City public schools, students don’t have enough of these items. And it’s hard to do well in school without them.
Every year, our school collects school supplies for PS-83 in East Harlem. Our school’s friendship with PS-83 began over a decade ago as a book drive. The relationship has grown over time. Now, over the course of a year, we donate books, coats, mittens, art supplies and general school supplies.
We wanted to make sure the school supplies drive would be a success. So we asked our mom to reach out to the co-chairs of the drive to volunteer our help. We figured they might need some on-site help boxing the supplies or loading up their cars to take the items to PS-83. The head of our middle school was proud of our initiative and asked if we would like to publicize the drive by speaking before the entire middle and upper schools at an assembly. Of course, we said yes!
It’s not every day that you speak before hundreds of students, so we both were a bit nervous. We asked everyone in the audience to commit to bringing in at least one of a long list of school supplies. Many of the items on the list, like pencils, pens, erasers and notebooks are under a dollar. We calculated that if everyone brought in at least one item, our school would have over 400 items to donate.
Take a look at what the bin looked like on the second day!
For our part, we went to Staples, CVS, Duane Reade and a few other places and cleaned out their clearance sections. Our parents said they’d match whatever we spent. Our mom even hit up the Dollar Tree while we were in school. Many other families at the school submitted online orders through Amazon and had their contributions sent directly to the school. We were pleased to see full bins most days.
After the drive ended, the co-chairs of the committee sent our family an email saying saying the drive was “incredibly successful and we broke all the records. PS83 is ecstatic!” It feels nice to be part of a team that is helping other kids succeed academically.
Now we are turning our focus to cleaning out our closets to help with our school’s coats, hats and mittens drive which will start in a few weeks.
—Jack and Andrew Greff