When it comes to getting ready for school, teachers say that having the right supplies and enough of them can make all the difference in student success. Kids often disconnect because they don’t have the school supplies they need to learn and achieve, and yet some families can’t afford these necessary materials. A backpack filled with pencils, notebooks, and erasers, or a kit filled with hygiene products are just ordinary things to lots of kids. To a child in need, those few items can help bridge the gap between fitting in and feeling different.
Cummins is recognized as a worldwide leader in corporate social responsibility and employee engagement. For decades, Cummins and United Way have partnered to benefit communities where the company’s employees live and work. So when the company decided to launch a Back to School initiative, it reached out to United Way Worldwide for help in designing and implementing a meaningful, cost-effective effort with the 23 offices in Cummins Southeast Region.
Local United Ways coordinated employee volunteer events in each market. Although Hurricane Hermine forced the Augusta, GA site to reschedule the event, the Cummins volunteers there still managed to assemble more than 130 “school supply kits” -- pull string backpacks stuffed with 17 different supply items and an “encouragement” note -- that were delivered to Hephzibah Elementary School. In Fort Myers, FL volunteers assembled 160 similar backpacks and donated them to Franklin Park Elementary, which has the highest poverty rate in Lee County. And in Ocala, FL the Marion County Public School’s Homeless Children’s Program was the beneficiary of the 166 school supply kits.
The efforts of many added up: nearly 600 Cummins employees assembled school supply and hygiene kits that will equip more than 5,000 low-income children with resources they need to succeed this school year. While teachers, volunteers and children were all delighted by the kits, this video of the children of Slater Elementary School in Atlanta, GA captures the spirit and true impact of the initiative.