PTAs used to be all about raising money for their school through fun activities and events, and to a certain extent, they still are… BUT the impact of your PTA can stretch further – much further!
Harness your epic organisational skills, use powerful persuasion and gather some willing volunteers – and your PTA can also do a great deal of good in your local community and even further afield.
Community spirit may be something that can’t be covered by the curriculum, but with your PTA’s support can:
– Help children to consider the world beyond themselves, the types of people that are living within it and what challenges they face.
– Promote empathy and understanding.
– Encourage people to pull together when times are good and when the going gets tough.
– Teach children the value of giving something back.
– Demonstrate that you are a PTA that is willing to extend generosity and goodwill to others, as well as receive it for your own cause.
Things to think about
However, before you start listing all your fabulous ideas, here are a few things you need to give some thought to.
What community project/charity/cause do you want to help?
First decide who you want to help, as this will make a difference to the ways in which you can offer support. It could be something close to home such as school families in need, local youth clubs or hospitals.
Some PTAs cast their net wider and fundraise for national charities like Macmillan, or send letters, essentials or treats to troops abroad or people living in impoverished countries.
The Mayor of Barnsley at a recent Macmillan coffee morning by Gawber Primary School PTA
Can you get the kids involved too?
We already know, community work can be a hugely valuable experience for children. Come up with ideas that excite and inspire the kids in your school to get involved too. We blogged previously about what kids learn from fundraising.
How should you time your campaigns?
Timing can be crucial, not only for the cause you choose but also for the parents you need support from.
Particularly when asking for money or goods, parents and carers generally give better responses when there is less pressure on their time or finances. I.e. consider avoiding the festive season if possible!
Ask your chosen cause when they would most appreciate the type of support that you can offer, and this will help you plan your timeline and give parents plenty of notice – via PTAsocial of course!
Some community-focused ideas
So what kind of things can you do? Make it fun and interesting so more parents and kids want to join in. Here are some of our favourite PTA community projects that we’ve found:
Winter Woolies Drive
This is a great way to help not only those who are homeless, but also those families in need nearby who may be struggling to clothe their growing kids or heat their homes this winter.
Collect hats, scarves, gloves, earmuffs, winter coats, blankets, thick socks, and even sleeping bags and duvets – anything that will help keep someone warm.
Social service agencies, local children’s centres and homeless charities should be able to make sure your collection goes to the people who need it most.
Food Bank Collection
An increasing number of families are relying on food banks, so this is a popular cause in many communities.
Harvest Festival is an ideal time for this, or you can contact your local food banks to find out when their stores most regularly need topping up. It isn’t just food items that are needed either.
Nappies are definitely one of the biggest recurring costs that young families have to contend with. Toiletries and personal care products (e.g. hairbrushes, hair ties, deodorant and razors) are often dropped from the shopping list when money is tight, yet providing these can make a big difference to how someone feels.
Uniform Swap Shop
Kids grow so fast at time, their uniforms have hardly been worn. Hold a uniform swap shop to help parents pick up nearly-new school clothes for next to nothing – a huge help to a lot of families, especially those with multiple children.
Care home or day centre visits
We all want someone to talk to, but many elderly people spend the majority of their time alone. Give back to the community by taking turns to volunteer in a care home, or at a day centre for the elderly.
Play a board game with residents, or just sit and have a cuppa and a natter. Get the kids at your school involved by organising a group to visit, sing songs, read poems or tell stories. It really will brighten their day.
We blogged a while ago about how Friends of Hamble Primary befriended the older residents of their village and gained a lot of willing volunteers in the process. Win-win!
Use your influence to reach out...
As members of your PTA committee, you may or may not realise you are in a position of influence and can use this for the greater good of your local community.
Reach out to your local council and local charities organisations and see what help parents in your school could provide. At PTAsocial we’re really keen to help you make these links so you can tap into the full potential of your parent community to make a difference at home, at school and further afield.
We’d love to know if we’ve inspired you a little bit to think more broadly about what your PTA can achieve for your local community or other deserving charities. Or if you have stories of your own achievements to share, we’d love to hear from you!
PTAsocial makes organising events super-easy and inclusive by allowing volunteers to pick out a specific, manageable task. It’s completely free, so just start an account for your school right now in 2 minutes.