Teachers crowdsourcing supplies ahead of the school year

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 3:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 15, 2022 at 6:53 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - It is no secret that teachers are shelling out big bucks from their own wallets to stock their classrooms with the supplies they need to educate their students. The surprise may come in just how much money they are spending.

The need is so great many teachers have turned to non-profits like AdoptAClassroom to help crowdsource their supplies. The national organization surveyed thousands of teachers and found on average, teachers spend $750 on supplies, with 30% of responders saying they spend more than $1,000.

“The big things that are on my list this year are not actually big; they’re pencils and glue sticks,” Sarah Swain, a 2nd-grade teacher at Goodwin Elementary School in North Charleston, said. “Dry erase markers, dry erase boards, binder rings, markers, play dough, pens, basically anything you would think you’d find in a classroom.”

The state legislature allocates a stipend for school supplies that teachers can dip into. This year, lawmakers increased that stipend from $250 to $300 in an effort to help teachers with their out-of-pocket expenses.

“By the time I get that check, I have already spent that plus some,” Swain said. “I spend at least $250 a semester, if not more. I have bought clothes for my kids, book bags for my kids. It’s just a need-by-need basis. . . I am in it for the kids, so anything that makes their day easier I am willing to do it.”

It is still not enough, and teachers have started looking for creative solutions. Sydney Van Bulck is a former Goodwin Elementary School teacher doing what she can to help. She has started an effort to “Clear the List” in hopes of getting people to purchase school supplies from the Amazon wish lists of teachers in the area.

“It’s been great so far,” Van Bulck said. “Teachers have been very thankful, very grateful. I have been verifying that they are actually local teachers so that anyone in the public can know that their funds are actually going to these schools. We have had several teachers that have reached out to say thank you that they had some things that have been picked up already.”

Dozens of teachers have added their lists to the spreadsheet in hopes that someone might purchase a box of crayons or some pencils for their classrooms.

“I have received three packages from people that I don’t know personally,” Swain said. “They found my list through Sydney. It was definitely helpful and very much appreciated. I received an entire bag of binder rings. . . I’ve gotten pens, spray for a dry erase board and a lot of glue sticks.”

If you are interested in purchasing supplies, you can find the names of local teachers and their classroom needs; click here.

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