It’s that time of year again. The smells, paper, pen ink, and pencil lead, the sounds of books opening and pens and pencils writing — these permeate the senses of many students as they head back to school. Unfortunately, more than 30 million of these children attending schools nationwide are not only enrolled in the free and reduced meal programs but come from families with parents who are struggling financially.
My mother was one of those and I grew up on the free lunch program. I also remember how teachers would pitch in and make sure I had decent clothing (our school didn’t have uniforms back then). I was working my first full-time job in my last year of high school (banquet server at a local casino) and still couldn’t afford my cap and gown for graduating. Thanks to local school initiatives, I was able to borrow one and the casino management team gifted my mother, friends, and myself a lovely graduation dinner.
Education is often just another bill for many American households, and parents often feel helpless while working 1–2 jobs just to support their families. When it comes to paying the rent or covering a meal at school, parents may often encourage their kids to skip their meals just to save money.
Added to this crisis, schools across the country are facing severe budget cuts and lack the funding to purchase necessary supplies. Teachers often have to buy school supplies for their classes to help make up for the fact their students don’t have pen and paper.
However, there are many bright lights in this darkness and the Tesla Owners Club of Delaware Valley is shining brightly for children in its community.
DelVal @Tesla owners participate in a #BackToSchool supply drive with @thepromenadenj Sunday 7/28 at Marlton Supercharger starting at 11:30 am. Come for lunch, a charge, and bring school supplies to donate. @Xenius101 @vivivandeerlin @Jason_Kaps @christe25545867 pic.twitter.com/4YPO4U3lvz
— Tesla Owners-Delaware Valley (@DelValTesla) July 25, 2019
In New Jersey, the Tesla Owners Club of Delaware Valley partnered with the Promenade Management for the Center for Family Services Project Backpack to host a lunch and supply drive at the Marlton Supercharger. The goal was to help almost 2,000 children in three counties have much-needed school supplies.
They also accepted monetary donations and the Tesla Owners Club leaders used that to purchase school supplies as well. This beautiful initiative came about when TOCDV President Vivianna Van Deerlin got to work with GM at the Promenade at Sagemore Shopping Center from their previous event: The grand opening of the Marlton Tesla Supercharger. This was an event Marlton Mayor Veasy attended.
The Promenade general manager reached out to Van Deerlin with this request:
“Every summer we collect hundreds of backpacks and school supplies in my office for Center for Family Services’ Project Backpack. It goes to help almost 2,000 children in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. Do you think that local Tesla owners would do a drop off when they come by to charge? Or perhaps you could do a group collection or meet-up for it?”
Even if you didn’t get to attend the event, you can help out as well. If you are in the area you can drop off supplies to the Promenade Concierge office, which is right by the Tesla Superchargers — drop-off date ends August 16th. If you do donate to Project Backpack, be sure to mention the Tesla Owners Club of Delaware Valley.
DelVal Tesla Owners Club members donate 4 @Tesla frunk-fulls of school supplies to #centerffs for #ProjectBackpack at @thepromenadenj Superchargers @Jason_Kaps @christe25545867 @vivivandeerlin @singersteven pic.twitter.com/cZwrDoMQt0
— Tesla Owners-Delaware Valley (@DelValTesla) July 28, 2019
I reached out to TOCDV for a comment and one of the members, Christel Chessnoe, a Model 3 owner and the Chair of the Delaware Valley Tesla Owners Club Social Committee, said, “I wanted to promote electric cars and clean energy to the younger generation. If we start introducing green energy to kids now they will grow up knowing about Tesla and how electric cars can be the most fun car they will ever drive when they grow up.”
The Promenade even printed flyers and posted them to all the chargers.
Also, let’s not forget how Tesla’s own CEO, Elon Musk, helped out the Flint school kids this past year. He not only paid for water filters and water stations for the entire Flint Community School District, but he stopped by a Flint school and made sure all the students got a laptop, something that didn’t even exist when I was in school.
If you would like to do something to help out families with children going back to school, there are many local opportunities as well as national organizations. Perhaps, you can even start one. Create The Good has some excellent tips for starting your own back to school drive.
Two things they note that you can never have enough of are tissues and hand sanitizer. To get involved with the TOCDV initiative, click here.