Friday, August 24, 2012

The Best Use of Our Respective Skill Sets

It's so nice when your children have skill sets.  It's especially wonderful when those skill sets complement your own.  The very best is when they offer those skill sets to the task at hand. Right now, I am a very happy person.

GRIN, my hassle-free-volunteering-not-for-profit, is joining with No Excuses University's Tucson campuses to fill their classrooms with collegiate decor.  Bulletin boards are covered with powerful imagery that makes a statement: college is in your future.  Kindergarteners play going to college with the blocks; many of their first generation parents knew little if any schooling at all. 

It's a remarkable concept, one which the students embrace with enthusiasm.  "You brought us that Penn State garbage can," was my host's introduction as he escorted me to my destination on the middle school's campus last May.  We talked about engineering and the weather in Pennsylvania and it was like any other middle class conversation wonderful to be having it in an immigrant community's public school. 

They are making Americans on Prince Road here in Tucson.  I'm proud to be a part of it.  Don't worry, you won't feel left out. Filling the classrooms with swag is GRIN's way of helping you clean out your closets, your garages, your attics and your basements while doing good at the same time.

Think about it; do you really wear all those college logo t-shirts sitting on your shelves?  Gently used is more than welcome; kids need smocks and dry clothes after a micro-burst dowses them on the playground at recess and your castoffs will bring a smile to their faces.  Even better, it's one less thing for the teacher to worry about.

These are enthusiastic, devoted human beings who spend their days teaching lessons of all varieties, lessons about fairness and competence and responsibility and honor as well as the ABC's and 1-2-3's.  Were they compensated for the actual number of hours they work, most could actually take those summer vacations so often decried by those comfortable with cutting funds for public education. The last thing they need to think about is finding bling for their walls.

Not every teacher has her alma mater as her adopted college; there's only one UofA room though many more could claim allegiance. Teaching 23 children who speak seven different languages ought to be enough.  Ms. Levine shouldn't have to add interior decoration to her To Do List.

So, look around you.  Are your pencils sitting in your alma mater's coffee mug?  Do some of those pens and pads of paper you use for random notes have the logo?  Are you a denizen of a certain age who still has a blotter, the one underneath the laptop and the smart phone?  Empty them out, dust them off, and send them to the address on the website ( also appended below).

Do you have a fleece blanket tossing around in the trunk of your car?  The one they gave you at your reunion, that you keep there just in case? My Cornell blanket was wrapped around a series of 8th grade math students last year.  Have you moved to a warmer clime and no longer need five college sweatshirts taking up space?  If it is in the room it will be worn.  Is it because of a chilly classroom or is it a cozy space when a heart was aching?  These are 13 year olds, after all..... they are fragile and fungible and this is your chance to influence one... or two.,. or fifty.

Alumni magazines have pictures and stories and the class notes sections which open a world of possibilities.  Sports schedules are printed on colorful stock and show that fun is also involved.  A subscription to the school newspaper for the room to share would..... well, you're reading this blog so you can fill in the rest on your own.

If you need help with postage, email .

Thank you for allowing this bit of shameless self-promotion.  It's also been the best use of my skill set: writing.  While Big Cuter is creating a spreadsheet of contacts at 40-some schools, I have been tasked with writing the pleading email.  Rather than have him try to find my voice, I will lift pieces from this post and, voila, my skill set has multiplied itself with barely a tweak from me. 

I love it when a plan comes together.
All donations should be sent to
University of Michigan University of HartfordUniversity of Oklahoma Washington State
University of KansasUniversity of Arizona DePaulOregon
Syracuse UniversityUniversity of ConnecticutUniversity of IllinoisBoston University
Fresno StateUniversity of TexasKansas StateRutgers
UC BerkeleyOklahoma StateLouisiana TechTexas Tech
University of ColoradoWashingtonUniversity of WisconsinUniversity of Hawaii
Notre DameUniversity of CincinnatiUniversity of MissouriNorthwestern
StanfordUniversity of PittsburghUniversity of MaineMemphis
MinnesotaOhio State UniversityVermontMichigan State
University of IowaWyomingLouisiana StateBaylor
Kansas UniversityNew York University US Naval Academy US Air Force Academy
St. Louis UniversityOregonStateMontana State
Colorado School of MinesUniversity of North Carolina Northern Arizona University


  1. Fresno State, heh? Nice to see, says the FSU alum. But, sorry, no college clothes around here. Never was into that kind of branding.

  2. You may not have clothing,dkzody, but next time you're there you could send them a postcard from the campus! It's the little things that make the biggest difference.

  3. Don't you want IU stuff??

  4. Personally, I think that they should have checked with me before they assigned the universities, but, sadly, that didn't happen :) I will look at other NEU campuses where your IU stuff, and Maggie-from-Del-Mar's UCLA stuff can be put to good use.

  5. Think about it; do you really wear all those college logo t-shirts sitting on your shelves? Gently used is more than welcome; kids need smocks and dry clothes after a micro-burst dowses them on the playground at recess and your castoffs will bring a smile to their faces. Even better, it's one less thing for the teacher to worry about.


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