Bagging it Forward at the Joplin School Supply Fair
It’s not often that we truly get to help other people during our work day. We sell things and we buy things and we write and create things about the work that other people do. But we rarely do things just for the sake of helping another human being.
We were fortunate on Wednesday to help one of our clients, Elmer’s Products, Inc., distribute school supplies at the Joplin School Supply Fair. Organized and sponsored partially by Walmart, the Supply Fair brought dozens of Walmart vendors together in a gymnasium on the Missouri Southern State University campus to give away school supplies to kids affected by the Joplin tornado and storms. They estimated that over 7,000 kids would pass through the doors that day to get school supplies. I never heard a final number, but I think we got pretty close to that by day’s end.
I heard someone say that 54% of school children were affected in some way by the tornado that moved through Joplin on May 22. Before the fair started, we took a short drive through town to fully appreciate the magnitude of what happened that day. Three months later a lot of the town still looked like a war zone. Other parts looked pristinely untouched.
Seeing the devastation for ourselves quickly put the day’s activity into perspective for us. The need for help in Joplin is very real even three months later. As you can see in the photos below, we had no shortage of people coming to the supply fair.
A large part of Elmer’s back-to-school marketing plan for Walmart involves the idea of helping out those in need. We’ve helped them create awareness for this through the Bag it Forward Program that encourages shoppers to buy an extra bag of school supplies to give away when buying school supplies for their own kids.
We met Joplin teachers, students and parents all looking for a little help starting school. A bag of school supplies may not seem like a big deal to some people, but it can mean the world to someone who has lost everything in a disaster and is trying to figure out how best to start over.
Thank you, Elmers, for asking us to participate. It’s a day that I’ll remember for quite some time.
*All photos courtesy of Jay Thornton.