With only six weeks left of summer before school starts, we’re trying to get as much school supplies together for our foster children and families as we can. This will be a huge blessing to the foster children and families because as we all know, school supplies can add up the dollars quickly.
There will be some of you out there that think this is a great thing to do and believe it will be a huge blessing. However, there will always be those people that wonder, “Out of everything we could be doing for foster kids, why are we focusing on school supplies?” Or there may be people that think, “Foster parents get a monthly stipend for their foster children, why can’t they buy their own?”
Those are both very good (but slightly negative) questions.
Why are we focusing on school supplies?
Think back to when you were a kid for a second. Did your parents ever struggle to get your school supplies? Did you ever show up on the first day of school and not have everything you needed when everyone else did? Was everyone else talking about their new clothes and showing off their fancy new stuff and you sat quietly because your clothes and some of your school supplies were hand-me downs?
If you were ever in that position where you felt bad because everyone else seemed to have stuff and you didn’t — you understand. There are a lot of children that are in foster care now that weren’t in care on the first day of school last year. They had hand-me-down clothes that might not have been in great condition. They might have had some of the supplies, but not all of them. They were ashamed because they’re lucky they have lunch money (or free lunch) and $50 in school supplies just wasn’t in the budget this month.
For a child in a loving and safe home, the lack of supplies or new clothes may be slightly embarrassing, but it’s a feeling that will eventually be forgotten.
A child who has been taken into foster care has lost their entire biological family — parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc…They’ve been moved into a new house and left all of their worldly possessions behind, including their clothes and stuffed bears. They’re adjusting to being around new people, a new environment, new food, new discipline, new faith, and possibly a new school. These children are unsure and scared and going through the grieving process.
It is a small, but powerful gesture to ensure that these children are given the opportunity to walk into school on the first day dressed in new or like-new clothes and be able to show off their new school supplies like the other kids. To give them the chance to walk into school confident is a priceless moment for them.
If we can provide supplies for these kids, it gives the foster parents the ability to focus on buying school clothes and prevents them from having to fight the back to school rush at Walmart. When you’re trying to take care of children who have a lot of baggage that aren’t your own, anytime you don’t have to go to Walmart is a blessing.
So onto the next question: Why can’t they use that monthly check to buy their supplies?
Most of us are aware as to how much school supplies costs and how much school clothes cost. Looking at your grocery bill, you know how much it costs to feed your family. Think about this: Many of these families were 2 or 3 people households and overnight they became a family of 5 or 6. The grocery bill doubles, the water bill goes up, and they’re spending twice as much money on gas driving to court, therapy, visitations, the doctor, etc… The stipend is not a paycheck. They’re not getting rich off of these kids — it’s child support.
Once all of that is paid for there’s not always that much money left over to buy all their school supplies and school clothes at one time. Some of our families have 3 or more children starting back to school and they’re looking at a large expense at one time.
The question I have for those who are unsure about the blessing of school supplies is this: Why not school supplies? Like I said, it’s a small thing for us, but it’s huge to those families and those children.
Those who can’t foster CAN help. Check out the supplies list and see if you can find a way to bless a foster child or foster family this back to school season.