Freshly sharpened pencils, brand new, unbroken crayons lined up in their box, a full bottle of glue, a blank notebook. These are some of the small joys of going back to school. But unfortunately, not all children are able to experience these small joys if they live in poverty or are homeless and their families struggle to pay rent or put food on the table.
According to statistics from the DuPage County Continuum of Care, from 2013 to 2018 the number of homeless students in the county has increased by 50%. The cost of living in DuPage County is such that even a small apartment is out of reach for some families.
I am no longer in school and my children are no longer in school, but the bargain hunter in me still gets a small thrill from hitting the back to school sales and scoring bargains like 10¢ folders or 25¢ boxes of crayons. So, what do I do with all these school supplies I don’t need? I donate them to a homeless shelter. It’s a win-win: it is easy for me to do, it costs me so little, it makes me happy and a child starts the school year with the small joy of a new box of crayons and other school supplies.
Hesed House at 659 S. River St. in Aurora is the second largest shelter in the state and is currently seeking school supply donations (full disclosure: my cousin-in-law is the executive director). They are hoping to have the supplies by August 12 to ensure that the current 30-40 school-aged children in their care are ready for the first day of school.
SCARCE at 799 Roosevelt Rd. Building 2, Suite 108 is another option for your donations. SCARCE also takes gently-used items which is great when you and your children are ready to let go of school supplies they no longer need. And donating to SCARCE keeps them out of the landfill. Another win-win.
So, when you are at the back to school sales this week, consider adding a few extra items to your cart and help someone in need.