With the school year winding down, most of us would like to fall into a summer coma, only to be rudely awakened the day before school starts in the fall. But for me, the planning starts now!

Over the summer, I have many things to plan and think about before those big yellow busses start rolling through the neighborhood again. There are many places that need the community’s help, as well.

With smaller and smaller budgets for schools and families, I like to find ways to help those around me during those summer months.

One thing that is both easy and cheap is to look for books. Many classrooms do not have their own book supply, and it’s up to the teacher to fill in those gaps. Our community has a large number of English as a Second Language classes that need those books more than others. While these children are just learning to read, the availability of age-appropriate books is usually slim. Be on the lookout for nonfiction books that are low in reading level but that would still be interesting to the older child.

Great places to look are garage sales, library sales, and local thrift stores. Our local Goodwill stores have special book sales at the end of every week making certain books as cheap as $0.20! Once your books are purchased, simply contact your local school or the schools of neighboring districts, and distribute according to need.

Another large need is school supplies. Buying the required supplies can set a parent back as much as $100 per child, a cost that many cannot afford. Be on the lookout for sales that start toward the end of July at big-box office stores. Their weekly sales make preparing for school affordable with specials meant to draw you in. I take advantage of these sales by purchasing just the special of the week and returning often to catch each new sale.

There are plenty of places looking for these donated supplies, such as food shelves, shelters, and social service agencies that sponsor supplies drives and handouts. If you are unable to find any of these resources, your local school will take them and be able to give them to students in need.

While we are looking forward to shorts and flip-flops, cooler weather will be coming eventually. Now is the time to scoop up those last winter clearance items to give to those in need. Hats, gloves, coats, boots, and snow pants are expensive items that even those in middle-class families struggle to afford. For those among the working poor, a child’s growth spurt does not automatically mean a replacement of cold weather gear.

Typically, the same agencies that hold school supply drives have winter gear drives, as well. But if you are having trouble finding one, check with a low-income school in your area. Many of these schools have a special closet with these items to be able to give to students who show up for school underdressed due to income.

Hopefully I’ve been able to give you a few ideas to keep you busy this summer, and maybe even a reason to look forward to fall!

Do you have more ideas? Comment below with your own summer giving ideas!