It's that time of the year when household expenses skyrocket as children prepare for the new school year and parents scramble to provide the best of the best in stationery and school supplies. It is also a significantly difficult time for those less fortunate. A financially straining January can have a knock-on effect for the upcoming months in the year. If you're keen on helping out, here are 7 easy ways you can give back to schools and students in need:
1. Donate supplies
School supplies such as books, stationery and other educational materials are costly. Primary schools, specifically, often need a lot of supplies such as paper, crayons and even toiletries. For schools in underprivileged areas, extra clothing items and blankets also go a long way. Call the office at your child’s school, or a school you would like to support, to see which donations will help the most, then add a few of these to your shopping cart the next time you go to the supermarket.
2. Buy an extra school uniform
According to Personal Finance, the average cost of a school uniform in South Africa is between R300 and R800, while the costs at schools that require specific uniforms can go up to R1 500. Primary school children outgrow their clothing very quickly and many parents can’t afford to buy a new uniform each year. When you head out to buy your own kids’ uniforms, think of purchasing an extra pair of shoes, socks, a shirt, pair of pants or skirt and leave it with the school guidance counsellor or office for any kids that may need these items.
3. Start a clean-up crew
Unlike many schools in affluent areas, some public schools do not have support staff such as cleaners and gardeners, and their fields or play areas are often littered with crushed cold drink cans, sweet wrappers and other waste. Some schools may even have walls in need of a lick of paint or there may be old discarded furniture that can be saved. Designate a once-off or regular “School Clean-up Day” and ask parents, staff, learners and community members to help, recommends Great Schools. Not only will those participating feel a sense of ownership, but they will be more likely to pick up litter or volunteer to paint a classroom wall in the future.
4. Volunteer for Career Day or job shadowing
High school is the time when many learners are asked to make a decision about their future careers, with some having to spend a day or two at a business. I Heart Public Schools views this as a great opportunity to share your passions while giving back to the community — whether you’re a graphic designer, marketing professional or shop owner. Call up a local school and offer your or your company’s help in placing students for their job shadow days or speaking at the next career advice day.
5. Feed a child
An estimated six million children in South Africa regularly go hungry, reports the Mail & Guardian. While the Department of Basic Education’s National School Nutrition Programme provides healthy meals to a number of schools across the country and some schools encourage children to bring an extra sandwich for those who may not have lunch, there are many who still do not receive a nutritious meal. This can affect their development, says Snack Pak for Kids, as it is difficult for a child to focus on an empty stomach. If you are unable to make sandwiches or provide snacks on a regular basis, why not make a monetary donation to a cause such as The Lunchbox Fund, which provides meals to disadvantaged children across SA and which is also a beneficiary on the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme.
6. Offer your knowledge
Public schools often have classes of 40 or more learners, making it difficult for teachers to provide individual attention to each and every one. This can have negative effects on those struggling with the work or who have fears about pursuing education after high school. A mentor or tutor can help by encouraging learners to take the right classes or showing them the options available to them after matric. Contact the principal of a school to find out how you can offer these services during the school day, after school or on a weekend.
7. Get swiping
MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet allows you to select the causes that matter to you the most. With every swipe of your card at a participating retailer, a donation is made to your beneficiaries on your behalf and at no cost to you. In fact, MySchool is raising funds to provide 2020 leather school shoes to those in need. To contribute, swipe your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card when you purchase schoolwear at any Woolworth's until 31 January 2020.