Nonprofit working to help teachers with supplies despite lack of back-to-school drives

A Gift for Teaching opens curbside pick-up for educators in Orange County

Just like any other organization, A Gift For Teaching had to make some adjustments due to COVID-19. Instead of teachers going inside shopping for their own supplies, it organized a curbside pickup to limit contact.

The free store has turned into what looks like a warehouse packed with boxes of school and cleaning supplies.

“Pencil Boy curbside was inspired by Instacart, which I know a lot of us have relied on for the past few months ... It’s a nod to our Pencil Boy mascot,” said A Gift for Teaching president Jane Thompson.

Teachers can go online here, place an order and volunteers do the shopping. When the orders are ready, teachers will be notified and can pull up to the parking lot to pick up their orders. Volunteers place the boxes in their trunks.

Right now, A Gift for Teaching is doing a trial run, and the Pencil Boy Curbside service will fully open Sept. 1.

And it’s all free.

Dean Trevor Cox pulled up Wednesday to pick up orders for teachers at Cypress Creek High.

“The need is probably greater now because teachers are making less money, parents that have lost jobs can’t fully supply their students... it does ease the burden for teachers to not have to spend their money,” Cox said.

Maintaining support has been a challenge for A Gift for Teaching. The nonprofit organization said there has been a 65% reduction in the number of companies running back-to-school supply drives.

Drives they depend on to support teachers, many who pay out of pocket for supplies their students need to succeed.

“I think the demand for school supplies is even higher this year and that’s a huge concern for us because we’re concerned we may not be able to meet all those needs,” Thompson said.

Thompson said any business or group can organize a virtual supply drive and register on their website.

She said every dollar donated to the organization, is converted to $10 worth of school supplies distributed throughout the community.

News 6 is hosting a phone bank next Aug. 27 between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to help support A Gift for Teaching. The number for the phone bank will be posted the day of the event online and during our newscasts.

About the Author: