Give Write was born out of a simple conversation between friends. When one – a school teacher – was explaining how awful it felt seeing her students turn up on the first day of school with no supplies, another commented how she had piles of unused stationery that was going to waste.
Now in its 4th year, the family-run charity – Anita Bell, Jeff Healy and their son, Ben Healy – receives stationery donations from businesses and individuals and provides them to students in need across Western Australia. Almost 10,000 Give Write packs – comprising a pencil case filled with coloured pencils, textas, lead pencils, crayons, pens, highlighters, a ruler, sharpener, eraser and glue stick – have been distributed, while other donations, including exercise books, calculators, scissors, office equipment, art and craft and much more end up in the Free Teachers Store.
Teachers as the conduit
While the charity is dedicated to alleviating poverty and its emphasis is on supporting children in need, it is teachers who act as the conduit.
Give Write founder, Anita Bell, says “teachers know their classrooms and communities best, and know who is most in need in their class. We also know that it is often them who will end up having to put their hands in their own pockets to make up for shortfalls, and this can often run to thousands of dollars.”
Give Write is now a registered charity and classified as a Public Benevolent Institution, meaning the purpose is alleviate poverty. Operating only in WA, donors include local families with a surplus of stationery and partner schools all the way through to large-scale corporate businesses.
“Our Free Teachers’ Store contains all manner of donations that are available to teachers, education assistants, principals and school chaplains in WA who have students in need,” says Ms Bell. “We invite [them] to visit our store during the school holidays to stock up on items for their classrooms and their students who come to school with nothing. These sessions are free of charge and book out quickly.”
The charity operates year-round with widespread support. “We enjoy the support of some great stationery supply chains like ACCO, Winc and Officeworks, as well as many other local businesses who may make donations when they are moving or clearing out their stock.”
Give Write is one of the few, perhaps only, charities that accept used stationery, despite the extra work it involves for the volunteers.
Ms Bells explains: “Supporting recycling is one of the key principles that Give Write operates under. We saw how much was going to waste and knowing that in WA 1 in 6 children are living below the poverty line, it just makes sense to take what is no longer needed by one and repurposing it for use by someone else, and saving landfill along the way. With the help of our volunteers, we sort, test and clean every item that goes into our Give Write School Packs, so that if a child is receiving a pencil case perhaps for the very first time, everything in it looks brand new and just like everybody else’s. Items that don’t work are recycled through Terracycle or repurposed and ones that don’t meet our quality standards often end up in our Free Teachers’ Store for class seconds.”
Through Give Write’s innovative volunteer programs, with corporate, school and family opportunities, teams of people are hosted by the charity’s Education Officer to take part in sessions throughout the year.
“We are very proud of our various Volunteer Programs,” says Ms Bell. “Our Corporate Volunteering hosts teams of up to 20 people who take part in a fun, busy session of team building whilst giving back to the community. Our School Program is hosted by our Education Officer and offers a curriculum-aligned program for students to learn more about philanthropy, teamwork or recycling. Our Family Volunteering offers a unique experience for parents, children, and grandparents to work together and is a great conversation starter to talk about charity and those who have less than us. The one thing they all have in common is a desire to help others in need, and we are extremely thankful for all of their efforts. We have a bright, modern office and the sessions are really a lot of fun, and we often get told how relaxing sharpening pencils can be!”
Schools helping schools
Not only does Give Write enjoy public and corporate support, Anita estimates that around half of all donations come from other West Australian schools. “Around 40 schools participate in end-of-year Donation Drives,” she says. But more support is always needed. “We would also like to send a message to teachers in more well-off or private schools to consider end-of-year Donation Drives which will greatly benefit those in need, as well as make a great recycling or philanthropic project for your students to undertake.”
For more information and to donate visit: https://givewrite.org.au/