What Volunteering Means to Your Student
There is a lot that goes on during the school year - sports, concerts, field trips, assemblies, after school events, fundraisers and, of course, schooling! It can be overwhelming to be pulled in so many directions. But it can also be a great example to your children to show them that you are interested and involved in what they are doing. The PTO runs many events and fundraisers throughout the year and every single one is done with the goal of improving your student's scholastic experience, by keeping the classrooms well-supplied and providing opportunities for them to have fun with their friends and their families.
Below is an FAQ where you will find the answers to many questions you may have about volunteering at PTO events. If something is missing, please contact the PTO! Your question will gladly be answered.
Why should I volunteer?
The entire PTO, including the board, is made up of volunteers. No one is compensated for their time and there is quite a lot of work to be done throughout the year. If every adult committed to giving just a little bit of time, just one hour out of the whole year, there would never be a concern about having enough volunteers for an event. Sadly, this is a concern and if enough volunteers aren't found, then the event simply cannot be run. The true loss there is to the students.
Volunteers are vital to the accomplishments of the PTO and so greatly appreciated. Many of the events volunteers are requested for are events you may already be attending, so please consider giving just half an hour of your time.
I volunteered for an event once -- am I going to be pestered about volunteering for everything now?
Absolutely not! Unless you expressed interest in a specific event, the PTO will not contact you individually. What you will receive are emails and flyers about upcoming events, letting you know where and when volunteers are needed and how to go about signing up for an event, usually through Signup Genius. If it is an event you are already planning to attend, please consider volunteering for just half an hour!
I really don't have time to volunteer. Is there something else I can do?
Yes! Every person has different amounts of time available to give and that is perfectly understandable. Attending PTO meetings is a great way to start becoming involved. Even if you can't make every or most meetings, your input is valuable and appreciated. Babysitting is available during PTO meetings if you require it.
There is also a great need for donations for various events during the year. Some donation requests are as simple as sending a letter or an email to a company, which can easily be done from home. There is even a form letter to start you out! If you are out at a restaurant or business, you could also take a copy of the letter to give to the manager. This kind of volunteering is a huge help to the PTO!
Also consider giving just half an hour of time at an event if you were already planning to attend it. It flies by and you'll be done before you know it!
I'd like to volunteer for field trips. How do I sign up for that?
Field trips are not run by nor affiliated with the PTO. If you are interested in volunteering for field trips, you need to contact your student's teacher(s). You will also need to have clearances filed with the Brecknock Elementary office.
What are clearances? Where do I get those?
Clearances are essentially a background check and are required by the state of Pennsylvania for certain types of events at the school, usually called "closed" events. These are events that take place during the school day and are not open to the public. Clearances are free and relatively easy to obtain. You will need to create an account on the Child Welfare Portal to obtain the child abuse history clearance. You will also need to apply for a criminal background check on the PATCH site. Once you have been cleared, you will have the option of having your clearances mailed to you and also printing out a copy. The Brecknock Elementary office will require your clearances to be on file in order to participate in closed events. Keep Kids Safe is an excellent source of information for any further questions you may have.
Brecknock requires the original copy to keep on file in the office (they will make a copy for you to keep if you wish). Your clearances will be good for 5 years, and will then need to be renewed.
Where do I find out what volunteers are needed and when?
Lots of places! The PTO will send out a flyer with a Signup Genius link through Peachjar as well as make a post on the Facebook page. For certain larger events, like the Winter Dance, you may receive a Connect-Ed and email. Of course, the best place to find out is at the meetings!