Recently, Montgomery County Public Schools held a back-to-school fair where it gave away free backpacks pre-loaded with school supply goodies.
I like these kinds of giveaway events. The MCPS backpack giveaway, nonetheless, made me wonder about a few things.
First, did MCPS do any eligibility screening? I have no problems giving out anything to the needy—I just think there should be some basic checking to make sure: a) you are officially enrolled in MCPS and; b) you are officially poor (e.g., you qualify for FARMS—the Free and Reduced Meals program).
Second, if some basic screening procedures were in place (and I believe this could be done through the schools), MCPS could still hold its community day event, but forego making the needy stand in line for up to four hours waiting to get their hands on a backpack. So, here is an example of a giveaway by the Santa Clara (CA) County Schools that seems highly organized to me.
Those receiving backpacks must register and backpacks are assembled based on the needs of the grade. Clearly, the backpack contents for a first-grader differ from the backpack contents for a seventh-grader. Makes sense, right?
Third, why can’t MCPS get either some Montgomery County rich person or corporation to underwrite this whole event? According to the Washington Post article mentioned above, it looks like MCPS used staff to do targeted fundraising just for this event.
According to Forbes, Montgomery County is home to seven billionaires: Ted Lerner, Mitchell Rales, David Rubenstein, Richard Marriott, Bill Marriott, Barnard Saul, and Dan Snyder. Get one of these folks to step forward—make the backpack giveaway one of their signature charity events.