Every year teachers reach into their own pockets to pay for school supplies, arts, crafts and other items that they need to teach their students classroom lessons. Kids can’t learn without the necessary school supplies, like pencils, paper, pens and notebooks. But with recent school layoffs and salary cutbacks, it is getting harder and harder for cash-strapped teachers to dip into their own cash reserves for school supplies.
And in Arizona, the picture is not pretty.
More than half of all K-8 students cannot afford lunch, much less basic educational tools and supplies. On average, the state’s schools budget less than five cents per student daily for supplies.
But Treasures 4 Teachers, a grassroots non-profit organization is determined to change these sobering statistics. Here’s how.
In 2004 Barbara Blalock was working for the Valley of the Sun YMCA as their Senior Regional Preschool Director. Her position was primarily designed to accredit the 13 YMCA preschools through The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
The challenge she faced was the fact that the preschools did not have the funds to purchase some of the needed items to meet the requirements of the NAEYC accreditation standards; items such as binders, desk trays, markers, staplers, tape dispensers and other expensive office supplies.
Barbara contacted Intel and asked if they had surplus office supplies that they would consider donating to the YMCA preschool programs. Intel generously began donating from their “Dump Your Junk” quarterly event. Barbara would gather these supplies, store them in her garage and go to each preschool and disperse the supplies.
It wasn’t long before other companies started donating. Barbara’s garage was bursting at the seams so she decided it was time to make her dream come true of providing a “Reusable Resource Center” for teachers in Arizona called Treasures 4 Teachers.
Treasures 4 Teachers has grown from the size of a two-car garage to 10,000 square-feet of resources for teachers.
For only $35 per year teachers can access the store and huge warehouse, where they can fill a large, reusable bag with all the material it can hold for only $5 and shop in the free section. Some of the items Treasure 4 Teachers always have in their warehouse are binders, desk trays, staplers, tape dispensers, hole punches, fabric, paper, file folders, pencils, glue, pens, stickers, books, everyday recycled materials like cardboard tubes, egg cartons, bottles, jars and caps.
It’s a win-win for everyone as students receive the supplies they need to succeed in school, teachers can focus on what they do best and businesses divert tons of excess product from landfill.
In addition, Treasures 4 Teachers holds workshops and trainings to help support teachers harness their education skills.
But just this past summer, a monsoon collapsed the warehouse’s roof and rain water flooded the storefront and inventory area. Right now, Treasures 4 Teachers is relying on the donations of generous community members to help move the organization to a new location so that it can continue on with its important mission.
To donate and learn more about Treasures 4 Teachers, visit the organization’s website.