Anything that you might need, I’ve got inside for you!

A few months ago, I found myself standing in line with a woman whose daughter is currently a first year kindergarten teacher in Texas. About a week into the school year, the daughter called home to talk about a boy in her class who always claimed to have forgotten his backpack. Every afternoon, the teacher would ask the kids to put their papers into their backpacks, and every afternoon the boy would say, “I forgot my backpack!” When the teacher finally asked how she could help him to remember his backpack, the boy looked at his feet and admitted that he didn’t have a backpack at all, because his mom didn’t have the money.

The teacher went out that night and bought the boy a backpack. (The woman standing behind me in line said that the teacher should NOT have done this, which I thought was interesting. I would have bought the backpack.)

Anyway. It recently came to my attention that there are some kids in the girls’ school who are without backpacks for the same reason. AND, a few of us want to fix that.

I’ve been searching the internet for inexpensive backpacks (not the drawstring kind) that can be purchased in bulk, and although there are quite a few sites that offer such a thing, I hesitate before ordering because of bad site reviews posted elsewhere on the internet. My sister told me to go to a place like WalMart, tell them the situation and how I want to keep the purchase local, and see what they could offer.

Before I do that, I want to throw it out to you, because you tend to have the exact information that I need. Do you know where I could get something like twenty backpacks for a decent price? Any advice would be appreciated.

AND, now I’m going to take your hand and drag you to the other side of the room to show you the bracelet I received in the mail today. When I turned 30, Jeff sent flowers to me at work. Inside the card, he had written, “I’m in love with the world through the eyes of a girl.” (It’s the opening line from my very favorite Elliott Smith tune.) Now that we have two daughters, that line carries even more meaning than it did when Jeff and I were dating. Anyway, I found an Etsy store that sells customized bracelets. A little more than a week later, here I sit with the greatest bracelet I’ve ever owned—a bracelet so great that it prompted me to make an eighteen second video to celebrate its existence.

From here to there to here: We’re currently two birthday parties down, with only one to go. May Day.

Any advice on the backpack thing? I thank you in advance!
I want a Fluid Pudding Regular to win this one!
The Puddings are eating vegetables and giving away a $100 Visa Gift Card! Leave a comment for your chance to win! ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

22 thoughts on “Anything that you might need, I’ve got inside for you!”

  1. I have no ideas for you but I’m totally willing to kick in some money towards it. I’m a local St Louisan and would love to help these kids get the backpacks and school supplies they need.

  2. I can do a little more research for you, because I know I’ve read about backpack programs being operated by various organizations.

    We worked with our sons’ school nurse for a while to send a particular kid home with weekend food (peanut butter, bread, apples, milk boxes and juice boxes…) because there really wasn’t anything to eat at his house and he was hungry when Monday came around. But that was just our family helping one kid. There are also programs that fill backpacks full of food, school supplies and back-to-school clothes for groups of kids.

    If you can, check in with the school counselor and/or nurse about the actual need — they may know of agencies that work to solve the problem, and those agencies might need a cool mom like to you get things moving for your particular school.

    (dig the wonder woman power wrist band!)

  3. 2 ideas:

    1. There’s a school in my town that gets backpacks filled with school supplies for their students, donated from the Gap. Try them?

    2. Make it a blog thingy like Bloggess did at Christmas. I’d be happy to donate. If 40 or 50 of us gave $10, or if 20 of us gave $20…

  4. Mir’s featured a wholesale discount school supplies site earlier this month. I have no personal experience with the site, but maybe someone does? (April 13th,

  5. I bought a bunch of backpacks for my girls and my friend’s girls (she has four) at Kohl’s off season for about $2.00 each. Also, my older daughter rarely uses a backpack for more than a year and I donate the old one because it is usually in good shape. How about a gently used donation? If a bunch of donations come in the children can even have a choice.

  6. Check the locals before buying (Target, Walmart, Kohls, etc.).

    Make sure there isn’t some local group doing this that isn’t already doing this (or something similar).

    We have a group that comes in to our school and (of the identified children) lets them go shopping in a store set up in the gym; I think they all get a backpack, shoes, underwear, clothes, and who knows what else, I just know the duffle bag it all comes in is way too big for the first graders to carry home without giggling.

    Set up something so we can donate some money or send you a backpack; I’ve got at least one unused one, the other might be a little big for elementary.

    On a side note: AWESOME Bracelet!

  7. Not sure on where to get backpacks at this time of year, but if this kid is missing a backpack, he may be missing other things. Like food.
    This is active in St Louis –

    My church actively supports kids in similar programs. They get a backpack loaded with school supplies at the beginning of the school year and food in the backpack every weekend. This is an old news story on the program –

    Get the backpacks & help – make a difference!

  8. Not exactly sure of your timeline, but every year I buy several when the back to school stuff goes on clearance at Target. I still have a couple, un or barely used from last year’s stash.
    Say the word – they are yours. Give me a supply list and I’ll fill em up.

  9. Yike! Almost forgot – Oriental trading company has some very inexpensive buy in bulk selections too. Read the comments first, some are better quality than others.

  10. Try Lands End overstocks. They have backpacks under $10 — maybe try to contact them and see about donations. I know it’s less than local, but they are high quality backpacks that will last a long time.

  11. I echo gently used ones. Goodwill, etc, maybe? They probably won’t donate, but if you say the word, I’ll start looking and get ’em when I see ’em. Year is almost over, so could probably snag quite a few over the summer.

  12. I know the local YMCA does a backpack drive every year down here. Also our school district has a clothes closet program called Shared Dreams for students in the district. You might check with the school counselor or the district website to see if there is already something in place. The teacher might not be aware that there are resources in place already.

  13. Besides the immediate need, this would make a good project for a Boy Scout or Girl Scout seeking Eagle Scout or Gold Award (they have to do a service project).

    Ditto ongoing service project for a local fraternity/sorority, high school service club, 4H…

  14. Here’s a Michigan npo to consider. It is really helpful to consider how to sustain support, so kids can count on it. Sometimes working with an existing local npo or program yields greater long-term results. Anyhoo:

  15. Go to as many thrift stores as you can find in your area! They often have backpacks, practically brand new, for cheaps. If it’s worn out looking, don’t buy it, Ms. Pudding. Just move on to the next thrift store.

  16. I agree with your sister. I work in a school, and our local WalMart has been very generous in donating items for students in need. You may have to ask the school guidance counselor or social worker to talk to WalMart (just to confirm for them that they are donating or offering a very low price to the school and you are not just a crazy shady lady trying to get free backpacks for your own children).

  17. Locally there is a backpack & school supplies drive at the beginning of the school year that coincides with a great sale that Menards has (99 cents after rebate) on backpacks. I pick up a bunch to donate. I also pick up school supplies at CVS (free after rebate). I keep boxes of this stuff on hand for both my daughter and for donating.

  18. I don’t know diddly about backpacks in bulk, but I do know those Elliott Smith lyrics on the bracelet is the BEST THING EVER! Ah, even made me tear up. So sweet.

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