CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Pencils, paper, crayons, and more. There are thousands of Lowcountry students who will come without those items when school starts next week. One local non-profit is trying to help. Teacher's Supply Closet will distribute hundreds of thousands of supplies teachers during the upcoming school year.
Teachers like Mary Bonneau, from Apple Charter School, have spent thousands of dollars through the years, making sure their students were taken care of.
"Oh it was out of pocket. I've been teaching for the last 36 years. I've been spending a lot of my own personal money Bonneau said.
Teacher's Supply Closet is like a store with all the classroom needs, but after teachers load up with supplies, they get to take the items back to their students for free.
"They have been a God send. They really have been a God send. It's been very helpful. We've gotten some of everything we can think of from this place for our school," Bonneau said.
The non-profit takes donations year round, both supplies and monetary donations. It started in 2007 and distributed $6,000 in supplies that year.
By the time teachers shop this year, the organization will have donated more than a million dollars worth in supplies to teachers.
The group says this is the busiest time of year for donations, and donors say they're happy to help.
"It really struck us as being a worthy cause because there's certainly no greater service than that which our teachers provide," attorney for Richardson Patrick Westbrook and Brickman Law Firm Jay Ward said.
On average teachers take more than $600 in supplies to their schools, which they say truly makes a difference.
"It's really helped me a lot because it's kept me from spending money that I usually spend," Bonneau said.
The Teacher's Supply Closet says on average teachers spend $1200 of their own money to purchase supplies for their classroom. The State Legislature gives every teacher statewide a small stipend of $250 to help offset the costs.
Teachers from several low income schools throughout the tri-county will shop for supplies starting in mid-September. Teachers from schools that have been pre-qualified with Teacher's Supply Closet can sign up to shop starting Sept. 10th.
Several local shops offer teachers discounts on supplies.
Michael's offers a 15% discount with a teacher ID. Staples offers a 5% discount. Office Max and Office Depot offer various discounts, when teachers apply for a special discount card.