Trade shows are a veritable swag-fest, some with great loot and some with junk. I’ve been critical of the booth babe and chotchkie phenomenon, but my friend Kevin Houston has a better suggestion: Donate your (useful) swag like backpacks and pens to school kids in need.
Kevin first suggested this to me at HP Tech Forum after I refused the giveaway backpack I wouldn’t have used. It turns out that he’s been doing this for a while, with a focus on the backpacks so many vendors distribute. It’s funny — my own son uses my VMworld 2009 backpack and I have to admit it’s a well-built and useful bag. But I hadn’t thought of the underprivileged kids out there who could use it even more.
Did you know that 41% of kids in the United States come from “low-income” households? According to the NCCP, over half of the kids in Arkansas, DC, and Mississippi are under financial stress. I’m sure back-to-school time is a serious disappointment for many kids whose parents can’t afford a new backpack, pencils, and other school supplies. Many don’t realize that school districts can’t afford enough supplies either. In fact, it’s so common that the IRS allows teachers to deduct up to $250 in out-of-pocket expenses to equip their classrooms with basic supplies.
So I’d like to echo Kevin’s call: It’s time for us techies to lend a hand and support education. The next generation needs us! When you come home from VMworld and similar events, load that backpack up with school supplies (notebooks, pencils, scissors, and the like) and donate it to a local school. They’ll be glad for the help!
Photo by Kevin Houston