Starting a new school year was always an exciting time for me. I looked forward to learning new things, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones, meeting my new teachers and getting involved in after school activities. But what I loved most was starting out the school year with new clothes, shoes and school supplies, and looking forward to a new beginning.
My mom would load all 5 of us in the car for 3 days of school shopping. One day would be devoted to shoes, another day clothing and the last day we would get a new backpack and fill it with whatever was on our supply list. Since there were 5 of us we usually got one new outfit, the rest of our school clothing was hand me downs or anything from the previous year that still fit and a new pair of shoes if we needed them.
The past few months we’ve been working on sending summer clothes for the kids so with school starting in mid August they can get through a month or so before we start our drives for warmer clothing. Some of the dresses/skirts that were sent for the girls can last a little longer with a long sleeved shirt and a pair of leggings worn underneath. Our SFK supporters have been so generous in providing clothes for the kids and some of you have included socks, shoes and underwear in your packages. Many have told me they make it a habit to throw in a package of underwear or socks in their cart whenever they go shopping. With the recent donations of shoes from Running Strong and hopefully a few other organizations, most kids will have a decent pair of shoes to start the new school year.
Starting school on the Rez is a time when parents want their kids to look nice and to have the supplies needed to start learning as they feel it reflects badly on them if they can’t provide for them. Many parents will even keep their children at home until they can scrape up the money to buy what they need. However, this practice severely affects the amount of funding each school receives as it’s based on the number of students present on a certain day. Crazy Horse school in Wanblee can only service so many students as there aren’t enough teachers or books for each grade, so they need all the funding they can get. Many children are bused to other schools on or off the Rez, there are both public and tribal schools. Many kids attend public schools as they receive more resources than the tribal schools. Teachers in the schools on the Rez may come from foreign countries (their ticket to possible US citizenship) as well as from organizations like Teach For America as they lack teachers on the Rez with adequate skills. Some teachers not used to Rez conditions leave mid year. For the kids this can be an issue as there is lack of continuity from year to year because the school staff changes so often. Some of these issues of course, do exist off the Rez in other low income areas of the country. Education is the key to success and a good foundation and developing a love of learning depends on a child’s first experiences with school.
If children have the needed school supplies they can be ready to start learning from day one. Teachers, like many in our schools off the Rez, can only pay for so many items from their own pockets. So that’s where we come in, we would like to fill a minimum of 25 school bags. If you sew and have a stash simple school bags and pencil cases can be made for the younger students. Remember those bags we made around Easter? Well they were all given out at the party and the kids loved them! Since these are for toting books and supplies use a heavier fabric such as denim, twill, corduroy, etc. Check out my Pinterest board for ideas.. This is the time of year backpacks are on sale along with school supplies so please let us know of any good sales you find here, our Yahoo group or our Facebook page.
Needed school supplies:
- Paper, loose and spiral bound, wide and/or college ruled
- Pens, pencils and sharpeners, erasers
- Safety scissors
- Washable markers fine and wide tipped
- Glue and glue sticks (melt in the mail in the warmer months)
- Pencil cases
- Sanitary hand wipes
Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and Worldwide Hunger Relief will be joining us in this Back to School Drive. Hopefully with all our groups working together we can send the kids off to school properly outfitted and supplied and ready to learn. There will be a back to school picnic held soon so this will be the perfect time for children to receive a filled backpack. After school starts extra supplies can be given to the school to hand out to students in need.
Please share with us what you’re sending so we can track our progress. Donations can be sent to Jerome and Theresa here.
As always thanks from Sew For Kids.