Picking a service-learning project for this assignment was not easy. It took me a while to think of a community organization that would both complement my skills and meet the hour requirements. Oh, and the most important requirement: serve and benefit the community! I’m not going to lie, I was pretty stressed out about this assignment. How am I going to find the time for a service project that meets all of these requirements without going absolutely insane?
Thankfully, I found a local organization for this project! Unfortunately, it didn’t necessarily complement my skills. But it is something that I am passionate about and that’s just as important, right? My community partner, The Bulldog Backpack Program, distributes food to students who do not receive enough meals during the weekend. The reason I am so passionate about this is because I am going to college to become an elementary teacher and there’s so much more to being a teacher than just teaching. I will be responsible for all of these little humans and my job is to make sure they are learning and also receiving adequate care so they can attend school. (This may not be in the school job description but it is MY job description I created for myself.)
Another reason I chose The Bulldog Backpack Program is to raise awareness for the program. According to Cheryl Harris, the program director, “150-250 Alliance school children go hungry every weekend.” There have been several other fundraisers for this program but I believe this program needs all of the help and donations it can get. Click here to read an article to learn more about how much money it really does take to keep this program going.
Here is some more information on The Bulldog BackPack Program.
So, now onto the service-learning project! This project was pretty fun to do. For the fundraiser, I decided to set up a booth at the local family fun night that was going on during Heritage Days. I set up a box for food donations and also had a ring toss game for the kids to play (all proceeds went to the program).
Here is the flyer I made to put up at local businesses and social media websites. Many people told me they heard about it on Facebook so that was a good resource to use!
The first hour of the fundraiser was pretty steady with food donations, but I soon realized that no one was participating in the ring toss game. I figured out that the cause was the way my booth was set up. This is how I set it up:
As you can see, the ring toss sign is behind the booth. Many people did not pay any attention to the sign behind and only paid attention to what was right in front of them.
After I moved the sign and game to stand right beside the booth, I go a lot more business! Kids were able to see the sign and were instantly interested in the game.
The booth at Family Fun Night was very successful! The program received two full boxes of food donations and the game brought in about $20. I would have loved to have more food and money donations but I thought it was a pretty successful project in the long run. Many people had never heard of this program so I was able to answer their questions and give them more information about it.
Here is one of the boxes full of food donations. As you can see, many people were super generous with their donations and for that I am forever grateful!
Now that the fundraiser part is over with, I am going to meet with Cheryl Harris, the program director, to get it all organized and separated. She will also walk me through the process and I will be able to see how everything works. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of the actual “pack the backpack” event since school is not in session. The end of August or beginning of September is usually when all of the volunteers get together to pack and distribute the backpacks. However, I will be participating in the event and will get to see all of the student’s smiling faces! 🙂
Like I said before, I thought this project was very successful. My goals were to raise funds and donations for the program and also raise awareness. I believe these goals were accomplished. Another goal was to learn more about the program and make connections with my community. I believe these goals were accomplished as well! By completing this project, I have learned so much about The Bulldog Backpack Program and am very proud that it is available to students in my hometown community. Who knows, maybe I will start my own Backpack Program at a future school I will teach at!
If you have any questions or would like more information about The Bulldog Backpack Program, please don’t hesitate to ask!