Close your eyes for a moment and think back to your first day of school ever. Do you remember that very first day? Remember the excitement and the panic that coursed through your tiny body. You probably cried because everyone cried, clinging to your guardian in hope they wouldn’t leave you in this strange new place. Maybe you a wore a name tag so everyone would know your name but it didn’t make much sense to you because this was pre-school and you couldn’t read anyway.
Do you remember the way you felt afterwards? When the day was finally over and you were ready to head back home? You probably talked a mile a minute about your first day to everyone who would listen. The shiny new crayons, the fun lessons, the building blocks and other toys you got to play with and the friends you made.
I bet you thought this was the best day of your life.
Some kids aren’t so lucky to have the same experience.
They step into their classroom with their bellies rumbling because their parents can’t afford breakfast so they have to wait until noon for the school provided lunch.
Sometimes kids might come to school without any pencils or books. Embarrassed and red in the face they hope their friends or a teacher might lend them some supplies.
We don’t realize how something so small can help determine the route we take in life. The sparkly pink crayon with its perfect pointed tip you used for art one day made you fall in love with art. The book set that seemed never ending in your classroom fostered your love for literature and inspired you later on in life to become a writer, a teacher or a journalist.
The first day of school, the third day and beyond should create a sense of excitement in children. Every day is a new day, a fresh start in the classroom they will call home for the next year.
In an ideal world all classrooms would be colorful and inviting. The teachers and students would have all the supplies they need for their education but in the real world it doesn’t work that way.
While your kids or you yourself might have went to a wonderful school that seemed to never lack functioning computers, art supplies, and new and engaging books it might not be the same for a school the next town over. Heck, it might not be the same for the other school only a few short blocks away.
Our education system is struggling. Public schools are overcrowded, underfunded and many classrooms lack the supplies they need to give children the education they rightly deserve. More often than not teachers, who are underpaid, are paying out of pocket to create a comforting and engaging environment for their students. They pay for basic supplies, sheets of paper, ink and books they need for their classrooms.
Their contributions aren’t enough, which is why teachers are posting on DonorChoose.org and asking for help.
I first heard about the website when I was listening to the radio while driving to work. For $70 one of disc jockey’s made a contribution to a kindergarten class that needed a rug. The kids had been sitting on the cold floor during story time.
My favorite memories from school include sitting on the red rug in our classroom and listening to my teacher read out loud books by Dr. Seuss. That red rug signified the best part of the day for me.
With just a click of a button he managed to completely fund the project the teacher had posted and a few weeks later received a thank you note from all of the kids.
Intrigued by the story I had to search the website. I’ll admit I was a little overzealous when I started to read the different stories and clicked through photos of all the different kids and their smiling faces.
Part of my tax return went to a low-income school in Indiana, supplying a weighted blanket for kids with anxiety and snacks for when they were hungry. More of my money went to an elementary school in North Carolina for a group of students that needed new STEM books. In Colorado I contributed to a project for new chairs for the school library, books for kids who lost everything after the hurricane in Florida, and pillows, blankets and bean bags so children in wheelchairs could lay out and sit comfortably in a Special Education Center in Missouri.
The letters and photos have started rolling in and I couldn’t be happier for the students. Their smiling faces make my contribution worth it.
If I had more money I would’ve given to more projects. I searched the website and read about the need for computers, books, and other new technologies.
What I really love about DonorChoose.org is the fact that every project is broken down so you know where your donation goes. They outline the materials they’re asking for, where they’re getting them, the cost and any taxes or additional fees. The teachers themselves don’t place the order either. An employee from the website places the order and makes sure it is delivered to the school.
With DonorChoose.org you know exactly where your money is going and who is benefiting from it.
The first thing they teach you in journalism class is to follow the money. I find myself asking where has my money gone when I give a contribution to the cancer society or other big organizations. Has my contribution really helped someone? Are changes and research really being done? It can be discouraging to read your donation actually went to fraud or sending their staff to Disney World. So it’s nice to see the money I work hard to earn is going directly to the source of people I’m trying to help.
If you’re interested in making a charitable donation consider DonorChoose.org. Even if you can only donate a few dollars, an extra five might be enough to complete a project and help further a child’s education.