School Supplies Drive
The North Park University Writing Center will host the fourth annual School Supplies Drive (SSD), which benefits neighborhood school children in need.
North Park students, faculty and staff are encouraged to purchase discounted books and supplies in Carlson Lobby from November 1 to November 5. The items will then be delivered to underprivileged students who attend nearby Hibbard and Peterson elementary schools. Border’s Bookstore provides the discounted items.
A variety of books will be available, including childhood favorites and books in English and Spanish. SSD will also sell raffle tickets for prizes such as gift cards to Panera Bread, Lou Malnati’s, and more. Cash, checks, and credit cards are all acceptable forms of payment.
This year’s student coordinator, senior Kaitlyn Lehman, encourages everyone to think of these as small gifts that will have a big impact.
“It has been amazing to hear these kids talk about why they read,” she said. “Elementary students were talking about how reading is an escape for them, and one girl even referred to her life as a prison. It was so sad to listen to, but it's just a reminder of how important books are to these kids, and it's so easy for us as students to make such a big difference in their lives.”
Last year, North Parkers bought nearly 400 books, supplies ranging from pencils to notebooks to Post-its, and donated more than $600 from raffle sales to Hibbard Elementary School.
The idea for the drive originated in 2006 when undergraduate Amanda Munroe (now an alumnus) became involved in a friend’s efforts to gather supplies for a mission to Ghana.
“One thing led to another, and by 2007, we had the SSD for our neighbor Hibbard,” said Munroe, a writing advisor for the Writing Center.
Over the next couple of years, Munroe worked with other students — often fellow writing advisors — to organize and host the drive. That’s how Lehman got involved. Her motivation to join the drive was due to her love of children and her desire to get more involved on campus. When Munroe graduated in December, 2008, Lehman, then a sophomore, took over.
“The experience has been great overall,” said Lehman. “There have been definite ups and downs, and it's so much more work than it seems, but getting to deliver the books at the end makes it all worth it.”
Munroe agrees. She also appreciates how the program fulfills North Park’s mission statement.
“The School Supplies Drive is a way for students to significantly impact the world around them,” said Munroe. “It's a form of service, but it is also significant because it involves much more than simply donating books. It brings the campus together and engages our neighbors — building community.”
For Lehman, it’s been rewarding to benefit the community and see the program grow.
“When I first got involved, it was a fairly small, localized endeavor, and not many people knew about it,” she said. “We've increased the amount we've been able to give to the schools each year, and now it's something that interests and excites our whole campus. That's so amazing to see.”
Added fellow writing advisor, junior Maggie Beach, “I wanted to get involved to help give the kids in our community the resources that they deserve, but might not receive otherwise. The most rewarding part is knowing that I am potentially giving a kid their favorite childhood book that they will always remember.”
Contributed by Alyssa Gerace, Editor-in-Chief for the North Park Press, the University's official student newspaper