Back to school is full of excitement and anticipation. But with the flurry of shopping and preparation comes added expenses for families with school-age children.
That's where the USAA Serves virtual school supply drives come into play. The campaign started earlier this month in communities near each of our regional offices and will continue through Aug. 31.
Felisha S., director of marketing for Communities In Schools of San Antonio, said most of the students in the 150 schools they serve live at or below the poverty line. School supplies, she says, are just one part of the equation. In fact, according to a KPMG survey, school supplies are expected to cost 32% more than last year. Students may have multiple siblings who also need supplies, along with clothing, groceries, rent and everything else that comes along with raising a family.
“When you add all of those things up and you're living at or below poverty, something has to go," says Felisha. “School supplies are often the first thing to get cut."
Jeanah G., USAA senior corporate responsibility manager, said the pandemic made that situation worse.
“The lasting financial impact from the pandemic is still affecting families today who are often choosing between household expenses and the ability to buy school supplies for their kids," Jeanah said.
“For years USAA provided more than 150 volunteers over a week-long period to help Stuff the Bus physically collect and sort the supplies donated from organizations across the city," Jeanah said. “But because of COVID and the health and safety of our employees being our number one priority, last year was the first time we supported the fundraiser with a virtual school supply drive."
Even a $10 or $20 donation can have a great impact for the students and schools, she added.
USAA has increased support from five to 13 schools across three San Antonio districts. The regional offices have met much of their goals, with Phoenix and Tampa leading the way. When the campaign first launched, Team Tampa met their goal in less than 90 minutes! USAA Serves also added an option for Work@Home employees to support Operation Homefront, which provides school supplies to military children across the country.
Communities In Schools of San Antonio works with each of their campus locations to determine student needs.
That might mean ensuring these children not only have school supplies, but also uniforms, shoes, water bottles and anything else that would be expected of a student on the first day. If a child shows up without proper supplies, it could be embarrassing for a student, Felisha explained.
“We're there to ensure students are fully prepared for class," she says. "Simply getting to school is a big deal for our students, we do whatever it takes to keep them there."