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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Grab Bag 2.0: More With Less

Paul Swanson is an administrator at the Calvary Christian Academy, a K-12 school that aims at delivering the best possible Christian education to its students located in Normal, IL.  I got a chance to sit down and talk with Swanson about how and why he uses Grab Bag. Swanson has been a member of NAEIR for over 20 years and visits Grab Bag every time he comes to pick up an order. Swanson noted the importance of NAEIR overall to his school, and specifically Grab Bag as a means to cut costs and provide not just educational materials for his students, but items that administrators, teachers and families they serve can use.

Paul Swanson, an administrator at Calvary
Christian Academy, with his Grab Bag finds
Swanson was able to find a slew of useful items for the school. David Mairs, of Calvary Lighthouse (who I introduced you to in Grab Bag 1.0: A Family Affair) let him know about the pallet of first aid kits that Calvary Christian Academy turned out to have a great need for.  Swanson also found gift bags and office supplies that a number of the school's hard working teachers will make use of in their classrooms along with a DVD science series that many of the schools programs and classes will use as well.

Swanson brought NAEIR to the Calvary Christian Academy’s attention about five years ago when he first started working there. He was already familiar with NAEIR at a public school where he had previously worked and when he arrived at Calvary was able to present NAEIR as a valuable resource that the school could use. In Swanson’s opinion, the best thing about NAEIR is that it “allows us to offer more to whatever ministry we serve at a reasonable price.”

Sue Birky and Ann Good, members
of Open Door Fellowship in Kouts IN, pose with
some of the items they found at Grab Bag
And that is really the heart of Grab Bag. For members, Grab Bag visits represent a phenomenal value, particularly whenever they come to pick up an order. They get 4 or 5 (depending on membership level) visits a year and many members take full advantage of this.  Moreover, as Steve Adams points out - the members that visit Grab Bag are very creative.  Swanson, for example, commented on how he was able to use different items that he’d found in Grab Bag for purposes they weren’t originally intended for.  He specifically talked about how during the spring, Calvary puts together Mission boxes that go to needy children. He often finds small items in Grab Bag that can later be put into these boxes, such as, random hair accessories, and personal care products. 

As both Mairs and Swanson have established, NAEIR’s Grab Bag has allowed their organizations to do more with less.  Budgets are tight for any group with the kind of goals that Calvary Christian Academy and Calvary Lighthouse have.  Jonathan Eklof, an administrator at Truth Ministries, exemplifies this type of attitude as well.  His organization has also been able to effectively cut costs through their Grab Bag visits.
Stay tuned for the final Grab Bag installment in which I talk to Jonathan Eklof. 

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