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The Very Best Part of the Back-to-School Season: A Gluestick Manifesto

Jeff Bogle is the dad of two remarkable pre-teen daughters. Visit him online at Out With The Kids.

I turned 40 a few months ago so by all rights stuff like this should no longer excite me (or at least not excite me to the level it does), but seeing the red, white, and blue postal truck come a’ wassailing down our street and then, a few moments later, hearing it idle at the edge of our driveway, continues to make me as giddy as a schoolboy in line for ice cream on a hot July day. I still rush out each afternoon just as I did when I was 8, 9 and 10, and usually before the mail truck has even reached the next house on my block, because on any given day there might be one piece of absolutely spectacular mail tucked in-between the 0% balance transfer rate offer and the 3 for $1 avocado deal. You just never know.
Early August is a particularly exciting time on the mailbox scene because, on one of those sweltering afternoons, our mail lady will bring us an oversized yellow envelope stuffed with copious amounts of paperwork to be reviewed, filled out, signed, notarized, fingerprinted, sworn an oath upon and submitted for doneness. These 7 pounds of forms-in-triplicate are what officially launches us into a brand new school year, and within the dense packet, just before the updated code of conduct booklet but after the oddly-shaped bright orange cardstock emergency contact form, is the school supply list shining like a beacon on the cliff’s edge, guiding children safely towards the back to school aisle of their local store.
The grandest part of the back to school supply list isn’t the pink pearl erasers, although they’re pretty darn fab. It’s discovering exactly how many glue sticks are required per student this new school year and then extending the math out to comprehend just how many glue sticks will be in each classroom and at each grade level. Last year, each child was required to have in their backpack on the first day of school in mid-August, 8 fresh sticks of glue. With 25 wide-eyed 3rd-graders under the tutelage of each teacher, that’s a whopping 200 glue sticks in every classroom on day one. Multiply that astoundingly sticky figure by the twelve 3rd grade classes and there was enough Elmer’s glue to construct a brand new pop-up school.
While my girls and I have a ton of fun wheeling our cart up and down the back to school section of our favorite store, poking fun at the quantities and sometimes the highly detailed specificity of the supplies listed, and imagining the ridiculous craft projects we could complete with all that stuff, we also try to do the teachers a solid by paying mind to the footnoted pleas for help at the bottom of the supply list. You know the section; it’s the one typed in a meek, size 8, italicized font where the teachers en masse make a polite request for cleaning wipes, tissues, extra folders, and even more glue (!!) to stockpile their classrooms. Thanks to the cadre of teachers we consider friends online and off, my family knows that funding is often tight and that teachers are regularly spending their own hard-earned money for classroom essentials in order to create an environment that’s safe, fun, conducive to learning and, apparently, very, very sticky.
Fortunately, we’re not the only ones looking to help teachers this back to school season. Clorox is going to clean up (see what I did there?) so many DonorsChoose.org classroom projects with a whopping $100,000 donation and a receipt validation program that makes it easy for families all over the country to help schools in need by uploading receipts of Clorox®, Glad® or Hidden Valley Ranch® purchases to receive money back that can either be donated to schools in need or put towards future purchases. Finally, in a boots-on-the-ground initiative, Clorox will be giving away school supplies and other products to families and teachers in need through pop-up shops in Chicago and Philadelphia in school.
While teachers in my Philly area should head to a pop-up shop, we know they won’t actually be building a pop-up school with all that glue, but that’s okay. My family is happy and excited each August to help our teachers by buying a few extra glue sticks, pre-sharpened pencils, reams of loose-leaf paper, and pink pearl erasers.
I was compensated for this story by Clorox, but everything above is honest and unbiased; I do genuinely love getting the mail every day and teachers really do have a strange fascination with glue sticks.

Explore classroom projects helped by Clorox
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