ORLANDO, Fla. – A Gift for Teaching celebrated the re-opening of its free supply store for Orange and Osceola County public school teachers on Tuesday.
It was an exciting day for teachers who are getting ready to welcome back their students across Central Florida schools.
“Having this support is really helpful to just get through the year. We go through a lot of pencils and crayons and markers and everything,” Ra Hall, a fifth-grade teacher at Eccleston Elementary school said.
The free supply store was founded by the nonprofit to help teachers who many times find themselves buying school supplies with their own money.
“Oh my goodness! I spend so much money out of pocket as a teacher just for you know basic needs in my classroom,” Hall said. “Teachers like, I think we get to expense maybe $250 a year and I spend so much more than that on my students.”
A Gift for Teaching has been providing essential school supplies for almost 23 years, but when COVID-19 spread they shifted to online orders and curbside pickup.
“Seventy percent of all the schools in Orange and Osceola County are considered underserved and high-need and those are the schools that we serve with all of the teachers all year round,” Jane Thompson, president of the organization said. " We’re really encouraging people to join us by hosting a virtual supply drive which they can do with their friends, their family, their colleagues. They can also collect supplies and drop them off or they can make a cash donation. The best way people can help is by visiting our website at agiftforteaching.org/supplydrive.”
According to A Gift for Teaching, more than 92% of local teachers report at least half of their students to arrive to class without school supplies.
“Things like notebooks and filler paper which is always in high demand so we provide both college rule and regular rule paper,” Thompson said. “I think the schools don’t really know yet how many more of their kids returning come from families who are still struggling to recover from the pandemic.”
To donate to the cause, click here.