This past year a colorful new assortment of notebooks with canine characteristics reached the shelves of the University Bookstore here in Madison. You may have given “paws” to the WOOF logo as you strolled down the paper aisle in that frantic last-minute rush to fetch some school supplies before the new semester. Perhaps you stopped to admire the howling pup on the cover or even purchased one out of sheer adoration. But you probably didn’t know that “WOOF” isn’t just what the dog says or merely some vibrant notebook with a dog graphic on it. WOOF Supplies is a charitable organization that seeks to enhance educational opportunities for underprivileged students in the U.S. WOOF is an acronym for “Working On Our Future,” and it aspires to do just that.
The slogan says it all: “You buy one, we give one.” For every WOOF notebook purchased, a one subject, 70-page notebook will be donated to the Kids In Need Foundation (KINF). From here, the KINF supply the teachers in need with these notebooks, and the teachers then distribute the notebooks to students.
In addition to donating these paper goods to the KINF, the environmentally-conscious WOOF has also partnered up with another charity organization, Plant-It 2020. It’s estimated that one tree can make about 100 notebooks. WOOF has promised that for every 50 notebooks it sells, Plant-It 2020 will plant two trees in Latin America or Southeast Asia to make up for the resources used. WOOF co-owner Jackson Angell — a student at the University of Wisconsin — stresses the importance of the organization being a friend to the environment.
“For a social cause, we also just need to be environmentally friendly and take advantage of the resources that we already have,” Angell said.
WOOF was co-founded by Alex Olmanson (University of Denver), Chris Olmanson (Boston College) and Jackson Angell (UW-Madison). The three college students are friends from their Wayzata, Minn., high school.
The three founders have all traveled abroad to various third world countries and have shared a similar experience and compelled emotion to make a difference.
On the official WOOF website, co-owner Chris Olmanson writes, “My dream for this company is to expand to all school supplies and be a force for continuing to improve education in the United States.” He realized this vision after a personal and eye-opening experience abroad that compelled him to make a difference.
During his four-month period of living in El Salvador, Olmanson developed an emotional connection with a native family that reminded him of his own. Among the family of five children, the eldest daughter, Rosa, had no choice but to drop out of school due to her financial state, as she was not able to purchase the proper school supplies she needed to stay the semester.
Rosa is just one of many impoverished students in El Salvador who don’t have enough money to afford school supplies. According to Olmanson, hundreds of thousands of kids in El Salvador have this problem, and it’s a problem for millions of students in the United States. When students can’t afford the proper materials for the classroom, some students go to school without them, which leads to many of these children eventually dropping out. Although students may drop out of school for many reasons, Olmanson says he wants to make sure that lack of course materials isn’t one of them.
His two life-long friends had similar mindsets after their experiences of traveling abroad as well.
“When my co-founders and I heard that students were dropping out of schools because they didn’t have proper supplies, we were devastated,” Angell said.
So the three savvy friends got together in August 2013 and collectively agreed that by creating an organization like WOOF, they’d be able to make a difference in the lives of others. And so WOOF was born, and it took off quickly. No time was wasted as Angell and the Olmansons brought the news of their newfound organization back to their respective colleges and beyond. WOOF notebooks are even being sold through Wayzata High School in Minnesota.
The promotion and presentation of WOOF notebooks has tail-wagging potential. The three friends hit the ground running with advertising, taking full advantage of social networking sites and establishing both Twitter and Facebook pages to promote their cause.
To the perspective reader, this all sounds too good to be true: how does WOOF accomplish and keep its promise? To assure consumers that their leashes aren’t being tugged, WOOF has uploaded the receipt copies of its finalized agreements with both Plant-It 2020 and the Kids In Need Foundation.
WOOF is a company dedicated to encouraging financially-struggling students to strive for success in school. It’s an organization that works to ensure that schools can have the supplies that they need in order to further students in their education. That’s something worth wagging your tail at.