At the end of last
summer, Forbes’ contributor Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle reported that some parents
were spending more than $1,000 dollars on back to school supplies. If you ask
Matthew Gerace, a rising tenth grader at Lancaster Country Day School, spending
this large sum of money is unnecessary. “I remember when I was in sixth grade,
and I would see different people just throwing their stuff away when it could
still be used. You’d just see people dumping stuff from their lockers into the
trash cans. When you go back to school shopping it is really expensive. Some
people buy all new stuff when it wasn’t even used or opened,” he explains.
Matthew, who grew
up in California, has connections with family and friends who donate gently
used school supplies through a program that brings the donated items to local
schools in need of it. After hearing about this, Matthew became inspired to
bring this generous project here to Pennsylvania. For the past two years,
Matthew has put bins throughout his school during the last few weeks when
students are cleaning out their desks and lockers. Once the school year was
complete, Matthew brought all of the donations home and organized all of the
items, from cleaning out binders to make them look brand new to bundling up
similar writing utensils.
Pictures of some of the school supplies that were collected from Lancaster Country Day School and refurbished to help those in need at Opportunity House.
On Thursday, June
16 Matthew came to Opportunity House with multiple boxes and a large trash bag
filled with binders in tow. The contents inside all of these boxes, which ranged
from folders and textbooks to Expo Markers and Crayola Crayons, contained all
of the school supplies that he has collected over the past two years. The most
recent school year has proved to be the most successful, as Matthew created a
PowerPoint presentation to explain the purpose of collecting the school
supplies to his classmates. He describes the presentation as having “a big
impact” since not everyone seemed to understand the project’s objective when he
first initiated it two years ago.
Isabella was also vital to helping collect so many donations this year alone.
As a rising eighth grader, Isabella was able to reach out to the middle school
students that Matthew was unable to reach directly from the high school. As a result, more people became involved, and
even a number of teachers were happy to donate to the cause. “At our school,
when people have an idea to help out a lot of people are really supportive,”
Unpacking the donated school supplies as they are delivered to Opportunity House.
A look at some of the donated school supplies.
This support reached far, as the
kind actions of Matthew and Isabella will allow both the children in
Opportunity House’s shelter and at the Second Street Learning Center to have
various school supplies. “The
families living in the shelter rely on us for their school needs, and we begin
to think about school supplies and uniforms as soon as school ends,” explains
Kathy Haggerty-Kase, Director of Annual Giving at Opportunity House. She
continues, “It is so inspiring to see young adults like Matthew and Isabella
who recognize the needs of those less fortunate and do something to make
someone’s life better. We are so grateful for their dedication to our mission
and for their time and effort in collecting and refurbishing the school
supplies. The plan they put in action has helped us achieve our goals.”
Matthew knew that he wanted to
donate the items he collected to a place “that really needed the supplies and
wouldn’t just sell it for money again.” He explains, “We just wanted to
make an impact on the local community. We had some other places throughout the
community in mind, but we felt that this location would make one of the biggest
impacts.” The generosity and thoughtfulness of the Gerace siblings has allowed
us to make an impact on the lives of many here at Opportunity House, and we
thank them for that.
Matthew poses for a picture with his sister, Isabella, who helped him collect school supplies to donate to Opportunity House.