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Summer is winding to an end and that means that parents everywhere are preparing to send their children back to school. This is a great time for a few unique volunteer opportunities!

This time of year for low-income families can be particularly stressful for parents. As children get older the list of necessary items for school only grows. Not only do they need to worry about clothes and any school fees, but items such as graphing calculators or certain books can come with a hefty price tag.

When families can afford the essentials, children are far more likely to receive a successful education. I think most people can agree that kids have the right to learn with as little difficulty as possible, and there are wonderful ways to volunteer and help ensure that children have a great school year that they deserve.

Organize clothing drives
Everyone knows how quickly children grow and often times it’s difficult for parents to afford the costs of keeping up with new shoes and pants that are long enough. Reach out to schools or churches about setting up a clothing drive so that before school begins families can come and pick out items that they need. If you regularly donate clothing make sure that instead of a thrift store that resells your donations are going to an organization that directly donates to people in need.

Donate school supplies
Often times the schools budget only reaches so far and teachers pick up as much slack as they can afford by providing students with supplies such as pencils, crayons, and notebooks. In the past there have been corporations, such as Office Depot that have held a national backpack program. This special program annually provided 200,000 backpacks to kids in need. If you can organize a school supplies drive at your job or somewhere in the community, it’s a great way to help children!

Purchase ‘extras’ if you can
If you have a child in school and can afford to purchase extras of anything, this is an awesome act of service! It could be a ticket to a school dance or field trip, a gym uniform, yearbook, or even clothing. Anything that you have to buy for your child, consider purchasing an extra so that a child in need may benefit.

Look for opportunities to use professional skills
When the school year begins if you find yourself with extra time on your hands consider volunteering to help students. You can use your skills whether they be in business, writing, or trade to help with all sorts of things. Find out if a school would be interested in hosting an assembly for students interested in entering a certain trade, help set up mock interviews for those preparing to enter the workforce, or simply lend a hand with the college application process.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t need the assistance, try not to take advantage of programs and services in place for low-income families. It’s unethical, however there still are people who don’t qualify, using programs intended for the less fortunate. This leaves some families scrabbling in preparation for their child’s future.