Let’s face it, school is more than just ABC’s and 123’s. It’s where kids learn how to interact with each other. The halls of a public school are where identity is shaped and judged. Self-esteem is just a tease away from destruction. There’s simply no hiding differences. Some kids are bigger, some smaller. Some have more and some have less.
This is where the “Big Little School Supply Drive” comes into play. The program, run by Anchor Bank, collects everything from pencils and pens to 3-ring binders and tissue boxes. “We love supporting our community and being able to reach out and help anyway we can,” says Anchor Bank Operation’s Officer Anthony Salas.
The drive used a fairly simple concept – the box. Customers would come in and drop off an item or money at their local branch. The response was pretty incredible. More than 5,000 supplies were collected and distributed to schools from Puyallup to the ocean beaches. “Even non-customers heard our ad on the radio and would come in,” says Dylan Durr, Strategic Marketing Manager for Anchor Bank.
More than half of the McCleary School District’s students participate in the free or reduced lunch program. “We have a lot of families that have to stretch dollars to make ends meet,” says Superintendent Tita Mallory.
The employees at Anchor Bank stepped in to help. They went to the school board to find out exactly what students and teachers needed. A majority of the district’s 285 students benefited in one way or another. Some of the supplies went directly to the students and some were given to teachers to use at their discretion. “We feel blessed that they chose the kids at McCleary to support,” says Mallory.
On the surface pens and pencils don’t seem like a big deal. They’re ubiquitous. I’m callous enough to leave the caps off pens and let them dry out. I frequently waste paper. I bought new binders every semester of college and rarely used them. I’m lucky. I won the birth lottery. Sure, kids made fun of me for being skinny and short but I imagine nothing cuts quite like being without.
“It helps them [students] to feel like they’re on an equal footing with their peers,” says Mallory. “To have those basic needs taken care of allows you to focus on school and on work.”
Getting kids engaged is a core component behind “Big Little.” The idea is an old one. Given the proper tools a person can build just about anything.
This was the first official year for the “Big Little.” In the past the various Anchor Bank branches created their own unique program to help the community. The “Big Little’s” success means it’s here to stay. There’s even talk of growing the program. Part of the reason for the expansion is the response – and not just from the community.
“Our staff embraced this more than I ever could imagine,” says Anchor Bank Sales and Marketing Manager Sam Newberry. “We all participated and it was great.”