Back to School Blast (B2SB)
Last year, I volunteered at Back to School Blast and helped hand out fully loaded backpacks to students who needed them. My church spearheaded this idea, and has since been joined by several other churches and sponsors. It’s a big deal!
What I loved was the joy and almost party feel. Yes, there were long lines, but it felt like a celebration. More like Christmas. Not like charity. If you had a need, you showed up. No need to bring proof of income or prove your neediness. You need it, just come. And we will join you.
I’m a teacher, so I immediately noticed the joy in the elementary kids. “My own pencils! You mean I don’t have to share? I get to pick the color of the backpack!?! Pick out new shoes?!?”
The middle and high schoolers hang back. Their excitement is less noticeable. After all, they are hiding it. I mean, they assume everyone is looking at them. But once the get a volunteer’s gentle smile or encouragement they light up. You might even see a smile or get a hug. If not, it’s not because they don’t want to. They just have to play it cool.
These backpacks aren’t just a handout. They are a choice. They are support and empowerment to be productive in school. To not start out behind. To not be the kid that never bring supplies, and sits quietly, waiting for someone to notice.
We live I in a great district. I know plenty of teachers, who year after year, buy supplies for the kids who show up with nothing. It’s done discreetly, they spend their own money, and they get no applause.
Last year was the first year, since working in private school, I didn’t blow my budget buying supplies. The overwhelming majority of my students showed up with stuff. They joyfully pulled out their own pencils and papers. I noticed the brands that came from the B2SB. I was so glad to see it.
Of course, there is the kid who shows up without supplies. Perhaps, his parents didn’t hear about it or couldn’t make the event. Luckily, their were a few leftover supplies B2SB left in the front office at our school. Each teacher was given a small stash to start the year off with. And extra backpacks were in the office. When I saw a need, I was able to do something for a student.
As a teacher, I felt loved. Loved by my church, brothers and sisters in Christ, and by my community. It felt good. Too often teachers feel blamed, for poor student performance, testing, and other things completely out of our control. Rarely, do others realize the money we spend of effort we put in, and that’s okay. However, it was nice to know each one of my students, regardless of their situation, got to start off on the right foot. For them to feel loved, cared about, and valuable.
So when you volunteer or donate to B2SB, you are doing more than giving a kid a backpack, you are displaying the importance of an education and loving your neighbor at the same time.
Of course, by March, all my pencils were lost, they were out of paper, glue sticks were used up, and spirals had been left on busses. I think this is why elementary teachers collect supplies. I tell ya, middle schoolers are just unorganized messes! I fit right in. At that point I bought more, used personal money and whatever small department supplies we had. But by golly we made it to March!
Be sure to join in! Join with your community. Even if your town doesn’t have a similar program you can still meet student’s needs. Bring an extra box of pencils or a few extra supplies to your child’s teacher. Do whatever you can, when you can.