By Maddie Joiner
For the Opelika Observer
Back to school season is approaching and BigHouse is hosting its annual back-to-school supply drive. The drive started July 1 and will end July 28. BigHouse will host its Back to School Bash July 30, where families who registered can pick up their backpacks.
The BigHouse Foundation does a back-to-school drive every July to provide school supplies for local foster and adoptive families in the Lee County area. School supplies needed include crayons, markers, notebooks, backpacks, paper, pencils and more.
“What we do, is we collect school supplies so that way we can just relieve that burden of buying school supplies for multiple kids,” said Tatum Black, assistant director at BigHouse. “Our goal every year with this event is just to relieve that burden because school supplies can get so expensive and also, just make sure that all of these families have what they need for the new school year.”
BigHouse collects loose school supplies for children, but it also has a sponsorship program, where people in the community can sponsor a child and provide them with a full set of school supplies. Members of the community can also donate financially to BigHouse if they do not want to purchase school supplies.
With these sponsorships, children in the area are supported by someone in the community who is willing to go out and shop for their needed school supplies. Sponsors are given shopping lists from the child’s particular school, as well as information on the child’s favorite color or movie character. Black said, if possible, sponsors will purchase school supplies matching those preferences.
Sponsors then pack the backpack themselves and drop it off at BigHouse.
If anyone is interested in becoming a sponsor, Black encourages them to visit the BigHouse website at www.ourbighouse.org/ and click on “Back to School Bash” under the events tab. There, you can find more information on sponsorships and how to get involved in the event.
Every year, BigHouse sends out a newsletter with registration for the event so no family misses the opportunity to sign up. BigHouse mainly serves children in the Lee County area but has had children from Macon and Chambers counties register to get supplies in the past.
As assistant director, Black runs registration for the event and works with the members of the community to pair sponsors with children. She also packs the backpacks of the loose supplies so they can be ready for pickup.
Black’s favorite part of the event is when the families arrive to pick up the backpacks.
“It’s getting to see the kids when they get their backpacks,” Black said. “It’s always fun to see their reactions because we do our best to take their preferences, like their favorite color or favorite character and run with it. So, if a kid says they like Spiderman, we’re going to try our best to get a backpack that has Spiderman on it. Something that seems so simple as school supplies but when we go that extra step, seeing their reactions to that is always really fun and fulfilling.”
Donations can be dropped off at BigHouse, located at 112 N. 16th St. in Opelika, Monday – Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
About BigHouse (Per its website):
BigHouse Foundation was founded in 2009 as the dream of two college students to positively impact the world of foster care. After being personally exposed to the needs these children and families have, they knew they could no longer sit back and do nothing. BigHouse now focuses on serving families in two ways, by providing resources and building relationships.