Why We Need School Supplies (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

A little help can make a big difference.


It can make your ears burn with shame. 

We all had one or two moments when we were kids -something embarrassing that happened at school. Remember?  It didn't take much when we were young.  Think back about it for a second...it can still sting a little all these years later! 

As adults we may hear about something negative that happened to a child at school and dismiss it as trivial.  It is to us...it is not to the child.  Something small and silly through the eyes of an adult can be a source of true humiliation for a child.  The experts say children are capable of something called evaluative embarrassment by the age of 3.  A child that young can judge that others are aware that he or she is under-performing a task, or doing something wrong, or is in some other way uncomfortable.  The experts also point out that embarrassment can do long term damage to a child's self-esteem. 

It has happened to all of us..and we shouldn't wish it on any child.

The kids are all about to go back to school, all of them with long lists of classroom supplies they need to be ready to learn.  There will inevitably come a moment when a teacher will ask them all to get out this pencil, or that notebook, or maybe to have just the right type of folder or binder ready. 

Some of the kids simply won't have what they need.  As adults we can easily think, "That's ok, some other kids will loan them one, or maybe the teacher will have an extra."  That may very well be true.  That doesn't eliminate the moment though, when a little boy or a little girl, realizes, in front of everyone else, that they don't have what they're supposed to have...and it's not sitting at home waiting. 


That's why we run our "Stuff The Bus" campaign every year.  More than a dozen Wal-Mart stores set up big boxes near the doors to fill up with donated school supplies.  An organization called "Operation Back To School" arranges to have big yellow school buses parked by the doors to the stores.  We send reporters and anchors to a different Wal-Mart store every day for live reports about the drive.  We also run Public Service Announcements during commercial time to encourage everyone to give what they can.  The donated supplies are eventually loaded in those freshly-stuffed buses, and driven away for distribution to the kids who need them. 

There are so many kids who need them. 

When we spend even just a dollar or two on some extra school supplies at Wal-Mart, and put them in those boxes..we can make a huge difference,  We can help spare a child that moment of embarrassment, and help make sure that all children are equipped to get the education all children deserve. Too many of those embarrassing moments and some kids may be so frustrated, and have so many negative associations with being in the classroom, that they slowly drift away from taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by education.

"Operation Back To School" organizers told me they expect to help at least 4,500 children in the weeks ahead.  The kids will get help thanks to what we all will do this week.  The drive ends on Friday.  4,500 kids!....there are probably many more whose families haven't asked for help by calling 211.    That means in our community, in 2010, thousands and thousands of children need help just to have the basics.  If we have that many kids who don't all have what they need.....well...

It can make your ears burn with shame. 

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward

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