PTO can buy school supplies in bulk

My kids go to public school, and I love our Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). I’m going to keep this focused on one wonderful bit of collective action.

Students need to show up on the first day of school in August with certain school supplies. For example, first graders must have a 24-count crayon box. The school posts a list of supplies that parents must pay for. One option is to go to the store yourself to get all these items.

Or the PTO will do it for you if you pay a fee online. So, you don’t go shopping at all, and your kid just walks into school and the supplies are on their desk.

The savings from going through the PTO, in both time and money, are massive. The savings in the time of parents are more important than the bulk discount factor. (If you’d like to consider what that monetary bulk discount is, see this form from a similar program in Pennsylvania

One reason for sharing this is just to spread this particular idea, although many PTOs around the country already do it. It requires some volunteers to coordinate activity.

In my experience, collecting money and handling new office supplies is something American volunteers will do. There are certain jobs that seemingly always have to be paid positions in any organization, because no one wants to do it no matter how warm the fuzzies are.

Another reason for mentioning it is as just one of thousands of examples of how my life is improved by the networks of volunteers and local leaders that I live near. These kinds of benefits do not automatically follow from people living in proximity to each other, but they are one of the potential benefits of clustering together geographically.

The UN estimates this milestone event – when the number of people in urban areas overtook the number in rural settings – occurred in 2007.

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