Many of us take for granted the ability to supply something as simple as stationery, for our kids to start a new school year. We pack them off with a full pencil case so they can fully participate in learning.
With living standards decreasing and almost 1 in 7 children in NSW living in poverty, there are kids coming to school who don't have pens, pencils, pencil cases, sharpeners and erasers.
Reaching its goal of delivering 1000 stationery kits by the end of February was a dream that came true for the newly launched charity Got a Pen? It was a big ask of a charity only launched the month before by school teacher Natalie Panzarino and Lauren McCormack Sundstrom.
The need for new, good quality stationery kits to reach kids in the most disadvantaged schools was all too apparent in Natalie's own classroom, so she decided to do something pro-active about the shortfall.
Her friend Lauren wanted to do some volunteering that would allow her to bring her young baby, so Natalie suggested they run with her idea to get Got a Pen? off the ground.
When Natalie noticed that some of her students were coming to school with inadequate stationery supplies, she asked her friends to donate new stationery for her school, and with the help of local charity Helping Hands, distributed the items.
Speaking to In the Cove, Natalie says, "I found that I had more than enough to cover my school so I contacted other schools and spoke with their welfare coordinators, delivering kits for distribution."
Natalie says, "Obviously the need in some areas is much higher than in other areas so we have concentrated our efforts on the areas of highest socio-economic disadvantage. We donated 100 kits to one school in particular and they said that they could have easily distributed 100 more, so many of their kids just don't have the basics.
Now, six months down the track, the demand is only increasing with Natalie estimating that tens of thousands of kits are needed to ensure disadvantaged kids have basic supplies for learning.
"After working on this since the start of the year we have realised that it is much bigger problem than we ever anticipated, and we have also been really humbled by how grateful the schools and their students are to receive the kits. Teachers and Principals have expressed to us that this is making a huge difference to individual kids, and that means the world to us."
Thousands of kits have now reached kids around Sydney and the plan is to grow Got a Pen in order to help kids all across Australia.
"At the moment it is just a couple of mums who saw the need and wanted to help; but we are working with some great people to be able to grow our little initiative in to an organisation that can tackle this problem head on."
How can you help?
1. Like the Got a Pen? Facebook page for all the latest updates and callouts for much needed items.
2. Delivering new items at designated drop off points (click to see full list).
3. Purchase items online and have them delivered to Got A Pen? Officeworks has free delivery for orders over $55.
4. Host a drive in your workplace or community.
What to donate
Accepting donations of (new, not used):
*Rulers (15cm preferred)