With 16 million kids living in America who come from families struggling with extreme poverty, getting school supplies can make all the difference in the world to their future success. Having personally experienced a rough childhood, I know the struggles that come with being unable to afford necessities to have the best quality of life. Dixon Ticonderoga Company, and myself, are extremely proud to be an on-going corporate partner with The Kids In Need Foundation (KINF); we mutually understand the importance of providing the value of a level playing field, increased confidence and better grades to children and students in need through writing, arts and crafts, and fine art product donations.
Starting in 2009, I had a creative vision to make a significant difference in the lives of these underprivileged children through donating enough Dixon Ticonderoga pencils to the Kids In Need Foundation to reach from the East Coast to the West Coast. Depending on the route travelled, the distance between the East Coast and the West Coast of the United States ranges between 2,600 and 3,200 miles. My aspiration was to celebrate the Foundation’s 20th birthday in 2015 by donating enough pencils, pencil end to end, to reach this goal, and we were successful in that objective.
The Foundation’s mission is “to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed by providing free school supplies to the kids most in need.” Over the last 20 years, the Kids In Need Foundation has distributed almost $700 million in basic supplies, and I am more than proud to be a part of its initiatives. My friend and colleague, Kristine Cohn, Senior Director of Development and Corporate Partnerships Kids In Need Foundation, has said that “Dixon’s donations are so important because pencils are listed as the number one core product needed by students and teachers across the country—the product is consumable, so the need is always present…the Dixon Ticonderoga pencil is the most iconic brand name in pencils across the world, and donation recipients ask for them by name.”
I believe that even in this world of consistent technology growth and development, that the everyday need for pencils and core supplies in the classroom is constant. There will always be a need for quality pencil products in order to continue the promotion of learning, and the advancement of an individual’s writing skills. “Studies show that when kids have the necessary supplies to learn, classroom behavior improves, attitudes towards school and learning improve, and kids have a stronger sense of self-esteem” (KINF). I am personally excited that we have managed to reach this amazing milestone through donations. As my donation goal had been established in 2009, I had a clear, desired target to reach; I did not know what would happen along the journey, but I knew I would get there. Just as Forrest Gump had combated his inner struggles of love by deciding to just start running, I saw the immense opportunity to help the children in need that I once was. By reaching this donation goal, I feel as if I am able to smile when looking back on my earlier years of struggle. Dixon and the Kids In Need Foundation have reached a coast to coast success, but that does not mean that the mission has ended. Stay tuned to see where I decide to run next…more exciting things to come!
*Pictured above is a handwritten letter from a student who was a recipient of Dixon Ticonderoga’s donated products through the Kids In Need Foundation.