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How many students attend school without basic supplies?

These numbers might come as a surprise

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No matter how you look at it, education is vital to everyone's future.

However, proper education also costs money -- money that some schools and students aren't fortunate enough to have.

In Central Florida, there are more than 240,000 young students from families who live at or below the poverty line. These children attempt to participate in school without basic supplies such as pencils, paper, crayons and books. Even worse, about 17,000 of these children are homeless.

More than 70% of the families in Central Florida can't even afford lunch for their students, according to the group A Gift For Teaching.

Because of these numbers, teachers on average spend about $500 to $1,000 of their own money every year just to buy necessary school supplies for their students.

This is unacceptable.

What is A Gift for Teaching?

In 1998, philanthropist and nonprofit professional Gary Landwirth founded the group. What started as a small movement has turned into a powerful force to supply students and teachers alike with the tools they need to succeed in school.

The organization started with a vision that every student someday would possess the tools that he or she needs to participate and succeed in learning. Today, the group proudly serves 287 public schools in Orange and Osceola counties and loves giving back to the community of students and teachers.

Everybody deserves the right to learn and teach in a nurturing environment with the right tools.

The organization's commitment

The mission is to improve public school education by providing resources and surplus materials free to teachers for their students in need.

Basic learning tools shouldn't be considered a luxury. A Gift For Teaching helps thousands of students by supplying them with learning materials such as crayons, paper, pencils, glue, scissors and more.

Still, group leaders realize school supplies aren't always enough. That's why they branched out and started looking into donations for clothes, shoes and healthy meals for those in need.

The program not only helps supply students with the tools they need to succeed, but it also teaches them about giving and the importance of a community.

This is an organization that focuses on what really matters. With a low administrative cost, 97% of all financial contributions go directly into supporting the 200,000 students served.

Get involved

The program always has room for donations, volunteers and people who want to get involved.

More than 9,000 individuals, foundations and corporations have joined the effort so far.

To put things into perspective, a single $50 donation can provide enough pencils to get nearly five classrooms through the entire school year.

Whether you're looking to volunteer, donate or join the group in another way, check out the group's website to learn more.

Finally, education is about more than basic supplies. For anyone who'd like to get more involved in another way, you could check out some additional programs such as A Gift For Music, Pencil Boy Express and School SmARTS. These after- and in-school programs teach students the value of music, philanthropy and art.

We're all working together to build a better future for the students.