The Back-To-School aisle was obvious with primary-color balloons or maybe a big pair of open scissors chasing a box of crayons. Sometimes there were two BTS aisles and then I just knew the year was going to be phenomenal in every, possible way. The entire area was overflowing with moms and kids digging into bins, comparing notebooks, searching for glue sticks, picking up Trapper Keepers. Don’t get me started on the backpack aisle—the colors, the zippers with little animals attached, the pockets, the adjustable straps.
The BTS aisle meant life, new beginnings, fresh paper and possibility. I looked forward to seeing it all summer long and not just because I was (am) a super nerd but because for me school meant all good things wrapped in one, 5-day a week package.
My sister and I raced to pick up the supplies list. We analyzed each notebook. I always chose green for science class and red for reading. We begged for the 64-count Crayolas because that was the box with the sharpener in the back and our awesome cool status would be set for the year. We got rainbow-shaped erasers and pencils that had metallic swirls on their sides. Our paint kits were pure white with oval splashes of gorgeous, deep colors and a paint brush with smooth bristles. When we got home, we filled our backpacks to bursting with all our treasures plus Kleenex boxes to share with our sniffly-nosed classmates during the year. Our bags sat in a place of honor for weeks until we hoisted them onto our backs and marched out to meet that yellow bus.
Even as an adult, my heart lights up a bit when I think about the start of the school year. Sure, I have those dreams where I can’t get my locker open or I’ve forgotten to go to a hard math class and the day I finally show up, there is a test worth 50% of our grade… But mostly I get energized in the fall and school supplies are a big player in that.
You know what I’m talking about, too. You feel the excitement of the fall regardless of your season in life.
The thing is, not everyone can relate to this post.
Families all over our beautiful city dread the start of the school year and not because they don’t want to learn or see their friends or experience new things. Nope. Many families do not have money in their tight budgets to purchase school supplies..
Think about that for a moment. When you swing through the coffee shop drive thru, think about a little girl who can’t afford colored pencils. When you toss another bag of chips in your cart at the grocery store, do you see the boy desperate for notebook paper and glue? I look back on my elementary school years and I see those faces. I remember names of those who did not have what I had. I can’t do anything for those kids but today’s kids are right in my line of sight and within my reach.
For about $25, you can purchase a backpack and fill it up for a little kid who can’t do it herself. Or if you don’t have time to run the gauntlet in that BTS aisle, Passion Missions will do the leg work for you, just donate here.
Most of us do not even consider the cost of school supplies. We just add those items to our list and make it happen. It is a non-issue in our lives but that’s not true for all Austinites. Not by a long shot.
The start of school is about all those things I mentioned before—new beginnings, learning, friendship. It should not be about a knot in a mom’s stomach because she doesn’t know where her children’s supplies will come from. It should not be about a ten-year-old pretending he doesn’t need markers so he can spare his parents the expense.
You tithe. You do your part. You live on a budget, too. Maybe you already have kids to buy backpacks for—your kids, for crying out loud. Yes. All true.
But what if today, you did something for someone else, something unexpected? What if you provided relief and blessing and much-needed tools to a young family? What if you erased those items from their shopping list? What if you just took that burden away? What if you gave the gift of Back-To-School excitement?
You’ll walk past that particular store aisle with extra pep in your step. I promise.