If you'll excuse me, I'm having a moment here. A "school supply moment." Oakland Mills Village Manager Sandy Cederbaum aptly coined the phrase in her recent newsletter announcing this year's "Prepare for Success" drive. I found this passage, in an online essay, which describes the feeling well:
I never even liked school very much, but the Back to School season was still something special. Back to School was a time of such great newness it always left me feeling that anything could happen. With my school supplies laid out all clean and perfect in those final days before school started, I could always catch a glimpse of the better me that could possibly emerge that school year. (Jana Pruden)
But what if you are one of the 9,000 Howard County students that need the Free & Reduced Meal program? What if you are one of the 400 students who are homeless? A child who is already struggling with issues of inadequate food and housing comes to school with significant challenges to learning. And these are the students who need those "school supply moments" the most. As Jana Pruden states, to "catch a glimpse of the better me."
Changing the cycle of poverty does not happen in one grand gesture, or with the wave of a magic wand. Nourishing food, a secure place to lay your head, and a caring school environment are vital. But the next step, that "feeling that anything could happen"? That next step is where you, Dear Reader, are needed.
You can donate anything from pencils to backpacks. Or, you can make a donation through Paypal. $20.00 will buy enough supplies to get one student started for the school year. I have a friend from church who makes bargain hunting for school supplies her summer project. The Olympic Games are nothing compared to Mary Jo's school supply sweep. She knows when Staples is advertising pocket folders for a penny. She knows when Walmart is running a buy one, get one free deal on composition books.
But the thing she knows most of all is the joy of giving. Her children are grown. Her summer tradition benefits the Prepare for Success program in Howard County.
Oakland Mills, like all of the Columbia Villages, has big boxes waiting to be filled with your donations. Sandy Cederbaum is going to be keeping track of donations this year with a "backpack wall", a visual representation of how the donations are adding up. She's excited about filling up that wall with tiny backpacks that mean big things for our neediest children.
In one of my favorite movies, "A Thousand Clowns", Jason Robard's character Murray likes to go down to the docks to see off cruise ships. He explains, "It’s a great thing to do when you are about to start something new; it gives you the genuine feeling of the beginning of things.”
Let's see our kids off in style--ready for the voyage--with a belief that anything could happen.