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Saturday, September 21, 2013
School has been in session a few weeks now, which means fliers from the PTA about upcoming fundraisers will soon be in your child's backpack - if they haven't made an appearance already.
I can recall transforming into a mini-salesgirl each year in grade school to sell items like wrapping paper and scented candles. Earning money for the school isn't always on the forefront of each student's mind (earning the incentives for selling a certain amount are their goal), but that's what fundraisers are all about. Luckily for parents and family members who are tired of buying products they don't need, there are other ways to support local schools.
Most public schools have foundations set up through the state to collect donations. According to the Department of Taxation, these foundations were established for the "purpose of implementing a public/private partnership to fund public school improvement projects approved by the local school board."
With this method of donating, you can't choose exactly how the money will be used - that's up to the school board - but 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the foundation of your choice. Don't forget to keep your receipt for tax deductions.
Locally, you can donate to these public school foundations: The Bedford Area Educational Foundation; the Botetourt County Public Schools Education Foundation, Inc.; the Blues Education Foundation, Inc. (Buena Vista); Danville Public Schools Education Foundation, Inc.; Halifax County Public Schools Education Foundation; the Community Foundation for Rockbridge, Bath and Alleghany; The Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation; the Montgomery County Educational Foundation; Pulaski County Schools Education Foundation; Roanoke City Public Schools Education Foundation, Inc.; Roanoke County Public Schools Education Foundation, Inc.; and Southwest Virginia Public Education Foundation, Inc.
The full list of foundations in the state is available at www.tax.virginia.gov.
There are also websites set up to help fund schools and specific classrooms. Two popular and reputable sites are Donors Choose (www.donorschoose.org) and Adopt-A-Classroom (www.adoptaclassroom.org).
On Donors Choose, teachers can post "projects" and collect donations. There are a wide variety of projects to support, including potential art projects, classrooms that need books, and possible field trips . Projects can be listed for up to four months and have that amount of time to get funded. If a project expires, the donations are returned to contributors as account credits that can be applied to other postings. The website is free for teachers to use and these donations are also tax-deductible. Donors can choose projects by ZIP code, key word or project category.
Teachers can list their classes on Adopt-A-Classroom and collect donations that can be spent online at a "network of affiliate vendors" approved by the organization. Adopt-A-Classroom gives 100 percent of donations to the class, and teachers are given the discretion to choose what items are purchased. Once a purchase is made the donor will receive an itemized "Impact Report" detailing what was bought. Contributors can search for classrooms by teacher name, ZIP code or need .
Keep these options in mind next time you'd like to support local schools but don't need another candle or tin of chocolate-covered pretzels. If you have donated through any of these channels or have another favorite organization, tell me about it. Join the conversation on the Shoptimist blog at blogs.roanoke.com/shoptimist.
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