Guest blog post by Melanie Taylor, 2021-2022 National Education Committee Chair
Once again, it’s that time of year when we see parents and their children shopping for school supplies, looking at their list to see what they can afford.
Many families can’t afford those school supplies and this where the American Legion Auxiliary can step in and help.
The ALA’s Give 10 to Education program collects needed items in multiples of 10 — 10 pencils, 10 notebooks, 10 rulers, 10 glue sticks — you get the idea.
Because of COVID-19, the teachers were also asking for disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, face masks, facial tissue, and paper towels.
Every ALA unit, no matter how big or how small, can participate in this project and make a difference in the lives of these children. This is a way to show your community who the American Legion Auxiliary is and what we can do.
Now is the time to reach out to your school contacts as you are compiling your list. Teachers are working on their yearly curriculum and know what they will be needing. If you have a member who is a teacher, better yet.
Find out what supplies are needed in each school and grade, as they will differ from community to community.
Make this a community project, not just an ALA project. Encourage everyone to make a donation.
Place collection boxes where they can be easily seen with a poster stating what supplies are needed. Grocery stores, banks, post offices, city hall, fire stations, senior centers, and The American Legion Hall are all excellent locations. Don’t forget to empty the boxes regularly.
Contact your local news media about the Give 10 to Education supply drive and how and where donations can be made.
If you unit has a social media page, keep regular updates and instructions on the collection drive. This is an excellent way to let unit members know what they can bring to the next unit meeting.
For those members who are unable to get out, but still want to contribute, unit leaders can arrange to pick up the school supplies or even cash donations.
I have seen what a difference this project has made in the schools throughout our country. The unit end-of-year reports have proven that despite another year of this COVID pandemic and the restrictions it has placed on our members and our communities, we are still able to continue because it doesn’t require members to go into the schools — they can just drop the supplies off.
Remember, when you are collecting all those supplies, don’t forget to take lots of pictures. Share them on your unit’s social media accounts and share them on the ALA national Education Committee Facebook page.
Finally, don’t forget to say “thank you” to those who contributed supplies or funding. The national ALA Education Committee page provides you with a Give 10 to Education citation that can be downloaded and presented to donors. Using social media is another way to say thanks to those who contributed.
In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.