New solutions for dealing with lost and found

Every school has one, whether they want to or not. An Aladdin’s cave of treasure or perhaps Pandora’s box of stinky sneakers. Here are some novel ways of dealing with Lost and Found.

It’s truly astonishing what makes its way into the Lost and Found collection:

Hats, jackets, shoes, lunch boxes, water bottles, pencil cases, sports tops, raincoats umbrellas, balls and even the occasional pair of underwear.

Here are some innovative ways of dealing with the pile.

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Use a tubular wine rack to store odd and pairs of shoes – it makes them easy to see. You can make one using PVC tube offcuts from the local hardware store.

Sort and hang the clothes on a rack rather than shove them in a bin. Peg hats and odd socks to a line on the wall in a high traffic area.

Tie a laundry marker on a piece of string next to the Lost and Found box so that when an item is claimed, the student can write their name on it immediately.

Finding owners

Lay out unusual/expensive items such as glasses, earbuds, bags and sunglasses during parent-teacher meetings.

Lay all the items out on tables at assemblies or at the end of each term and remind parents to walk by and take a look.

Elect a Lost and Found councillor whose job it is to sort the items each week and return the labelled items to owners. At the end of each term or year, they can sell the remaining uniform items and donate the rest to a charity of their choosing.

Set a limit on the time items can remain in the Lost and Found before they are donated or thrown away. Urgency often creates vigilance.

Keep a tally of found items on the school website or in the school newsletter. Parents as well as children need constant reminders.

Place random items such as lunchboxes and bottles from the Lost and Found on a dedicated table in the canteen or area where students walk regularly. Change regularly.

Unclaimed items

Any uniforms not claimed can be given to the school office or nurse for emergencies (spills, tears and vomits).

Donate non-uniform clothing items to a local homeless shelter for women and children.

At the end of the year wash the good items and use them to stock a supply closet for students in need.

Unclaimed text books and stationery can be reused in the classrooms or donated to a local education charity.

Non-uniform items of clothing can be donated to textiles/art classes for sewing or upcycling projects.

Donate quality items to the uniform shop for resale.

Pool unclaimed items at the end of the year with other schools in your area and create a giving program for local children in need.

Alternatively, make everything available to teachers because they’re usually the first ones to notice when a child doesn’t have the necessary uniform/supplies.

What solutions for lost property do you have in your school?

Shannon Meyerkort

Shannon Meyerkort is a freelance writer and the author of "Brilliant Minds: 30 Dyslexic Heroes Who Changed our World", now available in all good bookstores.

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