Schoola Blog

School Fundraising Tips & Success Stories from Schoola

Month: November 2015

ENDED: Win $25 in Our Color Us Grateful Contest

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UPDATE: This contest has now ended.

We’ve partnered with Samantha Snyder, the illustrator behind the Attitude Is Everything coloring book, to do a fun coloring contest, a family-friendly activity perfect for the week of Thanksgiving. Here are the details:

When: Monday, 11/23-Sunday 11/29 at midnight PT
Prize: 3 winners will receive a $25 gift code to Schoola + a copy of the Attitude is Everything coloring book. (Please note, gift codes can not be used on new-with-tags items or in combination with other codes.)
What: Download the free printable “Gratitude is the Best Attitude” coloring sheet here, and color it to the best of your ability. Entries will be judged on creativity, and our favorite 3 will win.
How: Once you’ve colored the coloring sheet, snap a photo and share it on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, or simply email us at social@schoola.com. Here’s how:

  • Twitter: Tweet at @Schoola with the hashtag #ColorUsGrateful and a photo of your completed coloring sheet.
  • Instagram: Post a photo of your completed coloring sheet with the hashtag #ColorUsGrateful and tag @Schoola2U.
  • Facebook: Share a photo of your finished coloring sheet and tag @Schoola on Facebook with the hashtag #ColorUsGrateful. Please note that due to a Facebook technical glitch, sometimes it’s not possible to tag Schoola via mobile devices. In that case, don’t hesitate to email us your entry to make sure we see it (details below).
  • Email: If you’re having trouble with the above, please feel free to email social@schoola.com with a photo of your coloring sheet.

Winners: We’ll select three winners the week of 11/30. We’ll reach out to them on the social media platform they entered on.

Now that we’re done with the nitty-gritty contest details, let’s talk about Samantha, the creator of this fun coloring sheet. We were excited to virtually “sit down” with her to ask her a few questions about her childhood, and how it influenced her art. Hear it from her:

A big part of Schoola’s mission is helping raise funds for school programs like art, music, and P.E. that are often cut from school programs. Do you have a favorite childhood memory from school that really inspired you?
I remember my teachers always finding new ways and activities for us to use our imagination and creativity.  We didn’t have separate music or art teachers in elementary school, so my teachers had to try and bring those subjects in as best they could.  In 3rd grade our teacher had us write and illustrate our own stories in hardbound blank books (I still have mine today).  I loved coming up with my story,  but I remember enjoying coming up with the illustrations more.  It was then that I started telling people I wanted to be a storybook illustrator when I grew up.  Even though I explored different avenues throughout my life and have tried out different things, this dream was always in the back of my head.  And in a somewhat roundabout way, I have come to illustrate books, which kind of amazes me.  
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What advice would you give to a child pursuing an artistic or creative career?
For anyone who has a dream of pursuing art, I have just a few words of encouragement: Start where you are with what you have. We all have different experiences and opportunities growing up and we shouldn’t let that deter us from following our dream. I never took art lessons or classes when I was young and my materials consisted of a worn-down pencil and some notebook paper for most of my life. It wasn’t till after I turned 30 that I started any kind of formal training in art. You are never too old or inexperienced to start as long as you are willing to work hard and not be embarrassed or afraid to try. It’s all about your attitude.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself–when you’re not “doodling,” what are your hobbies?
Well, when I’m not doodling, editing, or working on my websites….I am busy taking care of my two kids (soon to be three!) with my husband. We keep things pretty simple. As a family we enjoy bike rides, exploring different places, and watching old TV shows on Netflix. I try to take a couple art classes every semester so I can eventually get my BFA and hope one day to have my MFA.   I enjoy reading (Stephen King books are my favorite), taking road trips (that hopefully end at Disneyland), and drinking Dr. Pepper (a horrible habit, I know).
Don’t forget to get your contest entries in before Sunday, 11/29. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Get Schooled: Here’s What Teachers Really Want for the Holidays

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We’ve come a long way from the one-room schoolhouse days when teachers received the iconic apple as a gift. Stumped about what to get your child’s teacher for the holidays this year? We’ve queried teachers across the country and asked them about their favorite gifts from students. (Hint: no one said “apple!”)

All the teachers were extremely humble, and it was hard to get an answer, but with a little cajoling, here’s what they want:

“I love getting little thoughtful gifts. One year I was really into nail polish, and received a couple bottles of polish hand-picked by my student. Once I got two tickets to Zoo Tunes with a beach towel and sunscreen in a beach bag to kick off my summer. I had a baby this year and one of my students noticed that I love wearing floral dresses with jean jackets, and he got my baby a matching outfit! Once I got a sweet silver necklace that had a small locket with a tiny drawing from my student.”
Ms. Doyle, First Grade

“The best presents I get are notes saying why my class mattered to them, or how they appreciated me as a teacher.”
Ms. Turner, High School Seniors

“A good old gift card is great or a gift to a pedicure/manicure. Sometimes it’s nice to get something from a local store, like a cool scarf or a personalized wallet. I guess at the end of the day it’s about the sentiment behind it. If you feel like a student really made an effort to pick something out based on your personality.”
Ms. Brown, 3rd grade,

“Thoughtful notes from students are awesome, but I equally love a note from their parents. Coffee cards are a good idea. I am an English teacher so I always appreciate gift certificates to a bookstore. I have a student whose family owns a restaurant and she brings all her teachers fried rice ever few weeks. Another idea is to ask if there are classroom needs they could assist with financially. Really any token of appreciation is good.”
Ms. Kuplik, Middle School

“[My favorite present was] a small, metallic faux leather clutch bag. Perfect for the fashionista teacher to carry during the upcoming holidays.”
Ms. Gross, 2nd grade.

“I love unique ornaments for my Christmas tree or chocolate.”
Mrs. Hobbs, PreK

“I get lots of gift cards and I love it! I also love the little handmade art and notes they bring in. I get those almost every day.”
Mrs. Bachmeier, Kindergarten

“One of my most favorite gifts ever was a gift from the whole class. Some parents worked together to help the students create a beautiful work of art with their names and finger prints. They then framed it and it is now hung in my classroom. I love this special gift from the heart!”
Mrs. Kutil, 1st Grade

What are you planning to give your child’s teacher this year? Let us know in the comments below.

ENDED: #OpenHeartsNotGifts Contest

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UPDATE: This contest has now closed and we’ve selected and contacted the winners. We had so many heartfelt entries, and it was incredibly difficult to choose, but after much deliberation here are the winners: 

Day 1 Blog: Janet A
“It’s not just the holidays. Even though my father died over twenty years ago (and my mom, a little over 10), I miss them and think of them every day. It’s been so long that it isn’t that earth-shattering grief that just hamstrings you at first. No. But somehow that’s worse: to wake in the sunny CA morning, get your cuppa, join the crawl of traffic winding to work……and then to suddenly remember that YOU are alive and in the world and they are not. It’s worse than that gut-wrenching, empty first-grief. It’s the F O R E V E R grief….the one that hangs there at the back of your mind, that stabs at your eyes with tears that you think you have no reason for. Oh, yeah. Another day. They aren’t here. Moms and Dads. What broke-down orphans we are without them. Miss you. Love you. Want just one chance to tell you in person.”

Day 2 Facebook: Christine Dayton
“End hunger. We donate as a family to our local food bank. We give when the kids school asks and I am helping with the gathering of holiday food items for needy families in the school I work. Our country is too rich and full of food to have hungry bellies.”

Day 3 Instagram: cheapoholicmama
“This is not so much an activity but more of a tradition. My children and I wait til the first snowfall of the season to put up our Christmas tree and decorate the house. It has been this way for 4 years now and we look forward to snow every year. ”

Day 4 Twitter: Heather Masters
“I’m thankful to have our family back in good health and together for the holidays. ”

Day 5 Pinterest: Cassandra Beato
“Every winter my family makes cookies together. It’s a gift because it allows my family to become closer and have fun. I also plan to give letters to my closest friends and my family. Each letter will be unique and written special for that person :).”

Closed Contest Details for Reference:

This week you’ll have 5 chances to win $25 in Schoola credit! Every day this week, we’ll post a new question about what’s really important this season on one of our social media platforms. You’ll have 24 hours (between noon PT and noon PT the next day) to reply to the prompt and we’ll choose one winner each day. The most heartfelt answer will win.

Here’s the nitty-gritty:

Who do you wish you could see over the holidays?

Who do you wish you could see over the holidays?

The contest kicked off right here on the blogMonday, November 16., with the question: Who do you wish you could see over the holidays?

Eager to get started? Each day the contest will run on a different social media platform. Make sure you comment on the right  one. Mark your calendars for the following dates and start thinking of your reply:

  • Monday, 11/16 right here on the Schoola blog leave your entry as a comment on Monday’s post. Respond to this question: Who do you wish you could see over the holidays?
  • Tuesday, 11/17 on Facebook, leave your entry as a reply comment.
  • Wednesday, 11/18 on Instagram, leave your entry as a comment on the post with the photo.
  • Thursday, 11/19 on Twitter, tweet your entry @Schoola and use the hashtag #OpenHeartsNotGifts.
  • Friday, 11/20 on Pinterest, leave your entry as a comment on our pin.

We  know you can’t wait to dive right in, but first read these important rules:

  • The entry period for each question begins at noon PT each day and ends at noon PT the following day.
  • Make sure your answer is original–if someone else already posted your idea, share another one.
  • You can comment as much as you’d like, and you’re eligible to win more than once during the contest if we really love your entries!
  • Remember that currently Schoola only ships to the contiguous 48 United States, so although anyone is welcome to participate, the prize will only be useable in those states.
  • The Schoola team will choose the winner that best reflects Schoola’s mission and brand.
  • The winner will receive a $25 gift code. This code will not be eligible for purchasing new-with-tags items and cannot be combined with any other code.
  • We’ll contact the day’s winner within a few days of the contest’s closing by replying to you on that social media platform.

We can’t wait to see all your wonderful answers!

5 Tips for Tip-Top Holiday Photos

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You’re probably still planning your Thanksgiving menu, but soon enough your mailbox will be overflowing with fun holiday updates from family and friends. If you’re anything like us, you’re still scrambling to take a family photo for your holiday card.

Here are 5 tips:

  • Natural Lighting: Your first instinct might be to crowd in front of the Christmas tree, but instead step outside for that group shot. Then, find the light–even though it might involve a bit of squinting, looking into the light will ensure your photo isn’t backlit. Take your photos in that golden hour right before the sun sets to get the best shot.

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  • Be Yourself: If your family is goofy, leverage that energy. Allow silly shots and have fun doing it. If your crew loves to build snowmen, capture an action shot. Your family photo is an opportunity to share something uniquely personal about your brood.
  • Take a Nap First: Cranky kiddos are the last thing you want on your hands when you’re trying to get a smiley photo. Try to schedule your photo session during an optimal time when you’re child isn’t going to have a meltdown.

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  • Plan Outfits Ahead: You might want everyone to be matchy-matchy. Traditional themes are red and green, but there are lots of options. Silly sweaters (aka ugly sweaters) can be fun. Or maybe you want everyone to wear something that reflects their style. Remember that some colors like black and white can appear washed out in a photo, and that busy prints can sometimes appear even busier. Before setting the camera timer, check that everyone’s buttons are buttoned, flies are zipped (yikes!), and collars are flat.
  • Edit Your Photos: There are tons of free resources for for making small tweaks like lighting or adding filters. Most Macs come with iPhoto or you can try online resources like PicMonkey.com.

What’s worked for you when it comes to taking your own family photos? Comment below with your own tips.

Tips for Keeping Kids Warm!

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Guest post by Kelly Murphy, Director of Merchandising at Schoola and former ski instructor.

Winter is a magical time of year ripe with opportunities to get outdoors and have fun. From making snowmen, to snowshoeing to skiing, the outdoor activities in winter are limitless. But if you’re cold the last thing you want to do is lace up your ice skates or go sledding, instead you want to snuggle up with a warm cup of hot chocolate. Dressing properly for the elements can make all the difference and as a former ski instructor these are my favorite tips for keeping warm!

  • Always pee before you ski! We say it’s because your body pulls the warmth from your fingers and toes to keep your middle warm and prevent your bladder from freezing. While that could be true, the real reason is that there’s nothing worse than bundling up then going outside only to have to go back in to unbundle and use the bathroom. Whether you’re going skiing or going sledding it’s always best to go to the bathroom first.
  • Don’t wear jeans – It’s easy to pull up your snow pants over your jeans and go outside but resist the urge! Because of their heavy material when jeans get wet they stay wet. Instead opt for a breathable cotton like leggings or sweatpants or a pant made out of a fleece material.

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  • Layer, layer, layer – If you’re too warm you can always unzip or take a layer off but once you’re outside there’s no closet with extra clothes so better be safe than sorry.
  • Put gloves or mittens on first – This generally takes two but if you can tuck your long sleeves into your gloves or mittens then put on your coat you’ll create a continuous sleeve that helps prevent those icy wrists that are the worst part of making snowballs or building snowmen.
  • Vests are the best – Just like with the “pee before you ski” tip, vests are a great way to keep your core warm so your body won’t start pulling the warmth from your fingers and toes. They make a great layer too because they won’t constrict your arms when you’re building a snow fort.

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  • Wool socks – As a kid I used to wear three pairs of socks so my toes wouldn’t get cold and then I discovered wool socks. Warm and breathable, wool socks are the best.
  •  Hats and mittens are your friends – I’ve come across a lot of kids that don’t want to wear their hats or mittens, which when it comes to keeping warm are some of your best accessories. I would always try and turn it into game and let the kid choose to put them on, surprisingly enough not a lot of kids want icicles for hair. Or compromise, “we can’t go outside without our hats and mittens on but if you still don’t want to wear it after ten minutes we can take them off.” Once they start playing in the cold they’ll totally forget about taking them off.

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One of Kelly’s favorite parts of school was lunchtime; she even wrote her college application essay on the moments at lunch. While lunch helped hone Kelly’s social skills it was her oratory and creative writing teachers who were truly her favorite parts of school. Having those electives and teachers that truly believed in her and instilled confidence are what inspires her to work hard and make sure that all students have the opportunity to learn and grow. 

Spice Up Your Holiday Clothing Drive With a Classroom Challenge

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With Thanksgiving only a couple weeks away, ‘tis the season for teachable moments about giving…

Schoola is offering a holiday edition of the classic clothing drive. We invite you to our holiday classroom challenge! Use our holiday coat & clothing drive poster to challenge your classes to compete and see who can bring in the most donations for your school.

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Here’s an example of the flyer you can distribute at your school.

Want to get started? Here’s how:

  1. Sign up to get a holiday coat drive poster: This will allow you to track your donations by class, allowing for each grade to compete for special recognition. Your coach can get the poster and tracking stickers shipped off to you lickety-split. If you don’t already have a coach helping you with your drives, email coach@schoola.com.
  2. Encourage your community to clean out their coat closets! This time take a look at your coat closet, not just kids’ rooms to find unused items. It’s likely that you have a few pieces of outerwear that are ready to pass on from last season. During the challenge, your class will get “extra credit” for each piece of outerwear you donate, a sticker for each bag, and one for each coat means lots of chances for your class to get points.  
  3. Talk about your results: Following your clothing drive, you will need to take a photo of your results poster (example photo below) to send to Schoola so they can award the winner their $100 gift card. Why not use the poster to create a lesson involving math, giving, and ecology. Challenge your students to calculate the value of the donation – one coat sells on Schoola for an average of $15, which means each coat has the potential to earn $6 for your school. Based on this, what are your potential earnings? 
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Closeup of a real Class Challenge in action!

I hope your holiday drive is successful and that the lessons in reuse resonate with your community.

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Megan’s favorite school memory is discovering a peer counseling program that helped her become a leader in her toughest year of grade-school – when she grew 11 inches in 12 months, and moved / changed schools as a 5’8” fifth-grader. Now she is a mom of two bay area babes, and spends the workweek helping more parents find and leverage Schoola to fund their school programs.

Coaches’ Corner: Meet the Team + Fundraising Tips

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If you’ve run a school-wide clothing drive, chances are you worked with one of Schoola’s coaches, a team of fundraising gurus who help you every step of the way when setting up and running your school’s clothing drive. We wanted to take a moment to not only introduce you to our awesome team, but share some of their insider fundraising tips.

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TIM:
Favorite School Memory: Tim loves to draw! He was lucky enough to grow up in the 1990s when art programs were still funded in grade schools. His favorite times at school were creative projects such as painting, bookmaking, and designing props for school plays. Today Tim works as a Schoola coach to help organize clothing drives that fund programs like the art projects he fondly remembers participating in as a kid.
Fundraising Tips:
– Share often on social media to increase participation and donations, which drive your earning potential. (Your Schoola coach will provide you with templates to make this easy.)
– Create a competition among the grades or classes, and provide a prize for the class with the most bags donated (pajama day, pizza lunch, etc).

LAUREN:
Favorite School Memory: Lauren has had a love of writing since the fifth grade, when she wrote her first short story for a class assignment. She continued to foster her fondness forwords throughout high school and college, and spent time working as a writing tutor and English instructor before joining the Schoola team. Outside of the classroom she spent much of her free time brushing up on her soccer skills and played for the varsity team throughout high school. Lauren now works as a Schoola coach, helping schools across the nation raise funds to support writing, sports, and other awesome programs!
Fundraising Tip:
– Encourage friends and family that don’t live in the area to participate remotely by requesting a free postage-paid donation bag online—anyone can donate on behalf of your school!

JAKE:
Favorite School Memory: Jake loves math. No doubt about it. Geometry and statistics are his favorite, but algebra will do in a pinch. His favorite memory from his grade school years is probably the ‘lake’ that his science teacher built in the classroom each spring that his class could explore with their microscopes. As the logistics coordinator at Schoola, he ensures all your donations make it from your school to our doorstep.
Fundraising Tips:
– Be sure to have your parents fill out the donor stickers so we can let them know when their clothes find a new home.
– Lost & found clothes are a great low-effort way to supplement your school’s inventory, and we can pick up boxes of clothes at any time. Pro tip: Send in your lost & found at the end of each semester so you don’t end up with a huge pile at the end of the year.

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JANA:
Favorite School Memory: Growing up, Jana loved reading and science. One of her fondest memories is the school-sponsored bookmobile, a free bookstore on wheels from which every child got to take a book home. She was also part of after-school science programs like Odyssey of the Mind, competing in engineering and physics challenges with friends. Jana continues to have a passion for reading and explores her inner science geek with her two boys. She now works as a Schoola coach, helping schools provide similar educational experiences for their students.
Fundraising Tips:
– Use the clothing drive as a teachable moment in the classroom! Educate students about recycling and water conservation. (Check out this free free printable worksheet that demonstrate the impact you can make by reusing and recycling gently used items)
– Link your drives to other school events that bring parents into the school, such as parent-teacher conferences, the book fair, or your spring festival.

JULIE:
Favorite School Memory: Julie has a fine arts degree. From early on, she added a creative flare to any project that would allow. She attributes her understanding of design and illustration techniques to her grade school art teacher. Innovative projects such as making marionettes, carving out linoleum stamps, and creating papier-mâché masks are some of her fondest memories. Julie is now a Schoola Coach helping schools, including her grade school, raise funds to give other children the opportunity to create lasting memories.
Fundraising Tips:
– Include a blurb or article in your school newsletter with progress and money raised; everyone loves a good progress update. You can also link to your Schoola page from your School’s website so you can watch a live tally of your fundraising progress.

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MARTHALUZ:
Favorite School Memory: One of Marthaluz’s favorite school memories is performing in Baile Folklorico’s Pineapple Dance in the third grade. Baile Folklorico was mainly a high school group, but they allowed other students in the district to participate. Marthaluz still loves trying different and unusual things. She spends her workdays helping to raise funds for schools, and her personal time giving back to her community, reading, eating, and exploring.
Fundraising Tips:
– Put signs in prominent locations to remind parents of the drive.
– Activate your phone/text/email tree the week of the drive to remind parents to donate.

STEPHEN:
Favorite School Memory: One of Stephen’s favorite memories was dancing the Macarena in grade school! This was just one of the many activities his PE class had–he always loved getting to play outdoors, which probably contributed to his love of camping and hiking as an adult.
Fundraising Tips:
– Get the Environmental Club, Student Council, or other clubs involved. This is especially good for middle and high schools.
– Share your fundraising goals and successes with the Schoola team—we often feature schools on our social media, and the added exposure can help you raise more!

Now that you’ve met the team, reach out at coach@schoola.com to set up a clothing drive, or simply request more info by filling out our online form and save programs like PE, art, and music in your school.

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