Program benefits students and schools
It’s that time of year when parents and children linger in school supply aisles, scanning their lists of required items for another school year.
But what about those parents who can’t afford school supplies or the school districts that can’t give teachers a stipend for items needed in the classroom?
That’s where the American Legion Auxiliary comes in! The ALA’s Give 10 to Education program collects donated school supplies in multiples of 10 — think 10 pencils, 10 notebooks, 10 folders, etc.
“The program gives every single unit — no matter the size, age of its members, if it’s an online Auxiliary unit, a unit that doesn’t meet very often — everyone can do it,” said Coral May Grout, who created the program as national Education Committee chairman several years ago. “I know every unit in this country can’t afford to give a scholarship, so this is a less expensive way to still show your community, your department, and the national organization you are still doing something for education.”
Grout came up with the concept in 2007 when she was asked to come up with an idea that would engage members. This request resulted in Give 10 to Education.
“I’m so proud of this program,” she said. “It has blossomed beautifully.”
A now-retired school superintendent and still working for the Department of Education in Massachusetts as a consultant, Grout understands how budgets can impact a school’s ability to afford basic supplies and the strain this puts on teachers and parents.
Auxiliary members can help ease that strain with this simple program that all members can participate in and schools will benefit from.
“One of the things [Give 10 to Education] does is it gets our name in the community schools and lets them know who we are, what we do, and why we matter,” said Deb Albers, current national Education Committee chairman.
Not sure what supplies are needed? Call the school and ask the teachers. Or you can send a check to the school and help out with supplies that way. Despite the pandemic, this program has been able to continue because it doesn’t require members to go inside schools — just collect the items and drop them off.
There are many ways ALA members can help with the Give 10 program: Grout suggests placing collection boxes (with permission) at your local American Legion post, bank, grocery store, or other location; purchase school supplies yourself; collect items from neighbors; donate money; and more. Bonus tip: Encourage the community at large to donate by holding a school supply drive. You could even offer to take cash donations from folks who’d rather you do the shopping for them.
One idea that worked for Albers’ unit was a simple email to members about collecting supplies for Give 10 to Education at their next ALA meeting.
“If anyone sends some kind of notice to their unit members, they can get a wide array of things,” Albers said. “We have a small unit, and it was supported by nearly everyone.”
Any number of items or any amount of money can and will make a difference for students across the country through the ALA’s Give 10 to Education.
“It’s one of my favorite programs,” Albers said. “Every person who is a member can donate to this program. It’s so easy and so beneficial.”
Suggested items for Give 10 to Education:
- Any kind of writing utensil
- 3-ring binders
- Tissues/paper towels
- Disinfecting wipes
- Glue/glue sticks
- And many more items!