Question: Goodwill

Our board was confronted by the schools Data entry operator about giving free wrist bands and free entry to our events as well as a weekly food bags to students she deems under privileged. Our PTO already has a Goodwill budget line in which we use to pay for class shirts and field trips for these students. With her new request it would total around $3500 per year. Is this something that has been done before and is it within normal PTO guidelines?

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

egraham writes:
It sounds like the school employee raised an important point--that many students can't afford events and don't have enough to eat at home--although she may have done it in a confrontational way. It's really up to your group's leaders to decide what steps are best for your group to take. You could add an item in your budget as she requested or ask for donations from the community to help cover some of the costs. You're taking great steps by providing school shirts and field trip fees. Both of those things are helping needy students participate in the life of the school. As far as events, there are several ways your group could make it easier for families of needy students to attend. You could give tickets to teachers to hand out discretely to students they know are in need. You can also keep admission to events free or very low to make it more feasible for families to come.

Weekly food bags can make a huge difference for hungry families, and many PTOs and PTAs coordinate food backpack programs. The groups may contribute some money from their budgets toward the programs, but they often ask for donations of food and cash to keep them running. In some cities there are charities that run weekend food backpack programs through schools, so start by finding out if one operates in your area. If not, talk to a local food bank. They may be able to provide food or help set up a small food pantry at your school. Emily at PTO Today

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