Thursday, September 10, 2015

Backpack Buddies!

Every year, we have a stealth  program during the month of August. This year we decided to do a school themed "Backpack Buddies"!

We wanted to give back to our local families with this program, so we decided to raffle off six backpacks at the end of the month.

To enter, kids simply had to check out books, and then come to the children's desk. We gave them each a pencil to write their name on (practicing those literary skills!) and a raffle entry. We had 3 separate "groups" the backpacks were for: PreK, K-2nd, and 3rd-5th. This let us purchase the most common supplies on each school list for the grade range. 

Do you all know how expensive school supplies are? I personally had no idea until we went on the purchasing run for all the items. Our caregivers told us over and over again how nice it was that there was even a possibility that they could win some free school supplies. My advice if you do something similar is to go school school in early July. We had parents offering us cash for the dry erase markers in the backpacks. Apparently the entire city was sold out!

Doing this program in August turned out to be pretty daunting. We are short-staffed, and were busier than usual during this normally slower month. Wrapping up summer reading, giving out summer reading prizes (books), helping kids complete their last minute summer reading lists, and this passive program was a little overwhelming. It seemed so simple and easy in theory, but with our staffing issues it was simply too much.

Next year we will definitely modify this program. We're hoping to partner with a local organization to purchase more backpacks and school supplies to give away. We also think we will have a "Back to School Bash" where we raffle off the backpacks during a program, instead of a month long activity.

Each winner we called was extremely excited for their backpack and supplies. Caregivers seemed even more excited then some of the kids! We had just over 900 entries total during the month, and while it was crazy we absolutely loved seeing the kids when they came to pick up their prize.

My absolute favorite moment came from one of our PreK winners. They are a loyal storytime family, and were extremely excited to be winners and get such a fun backpack. Later in the day, the mom called me to ask if we would mind if they donated the backpack to one of the local schools. She is a former teacher and remembered all of the kids who would show up for school without backpacks, and her little guys already had their own. Of course we said yes, and it made us so proud to call this family our patrons. We have some truly amazing people in our city.

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