The Power of Community: Helpers are all around us

Summer’s hit documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, tells the life story of beloved television host Mr. Rogers. It’s a powerful film that highlights the importance of community and of the “helpers” (using Mr. Rogers’ lingo) who surround us.

We were reminded of his noble vision of community when this story popped up on our Twitter feed a few days ago. This teacher—while traveling to visit family—told the tale of her students’ needs to a fellow passenger on the plane. Her story was met with unexpected generosity and kindness from strangers. She left the plane with hundreds of dollars in donations for her classroom.

Her tale reinforces that good is all around us—and that helpers can be all around us, too. Sometimes, all we need to do is tell the genuine, heartfelt story of our schools and students, and the need is met.

Are you struggling to meet the needs facing your classroom this year? Consider how you can share the story of your students with potential helpers in your life.

In addition to talking with people you meet in your day-to-day routines, remember that there are many other channels. Neighborhood businesses are often willing to support local classrooms or to display school supply donation jars. The PTA is a great resource for flexible funding. School or district foundations are another source of assistance. Local or regional community foundations can provide support; in addition to the core foundation grants, many of them also host donor-advised funds that support education needs.

Finally, there are online crowdfunding sites, such as Donors Choose or Class Wish. This model allows you to share your needs with a broader community, often resulting in a greater chance of success.

Wherever you seek funding to support your students, remember to tell the genuine, heartfelt story of their need. Whether it is shared on a plane or online, the compelling story is the reason people will choose to give.

“We live in a world where we need to share responsibility,” Mr. Rogers famously said years ago. “It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Go tell your heartfelt story and find your heroes.