Do I Help My Students or Do I Help My Family? A Reality Many Teachers Face
Imagine that you’re a fourth grade teacher at a public school in Orange County, Florida, the tenth largest school district in the United States. You have twenty-one students in your class and resources are tight. Not only that, but you notice a couple of your students come to school in shoes that are too small, or wear the same outfits every other day. They don’t have basic supplies like pencils or lined paper. You want to help, but you’re a single parent who needs to feed your family and pay bills.
The choice boils down to this tough question: Do I help my students, or do I help my family?
This is the reality for many of the teachers in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties where more than 210,000 of the students come from families that can’t afford lunch, let alone school supplies. Our teachers have told us that lack of school supplies has an impact on students’ attendance, achievement, self-esteem, and even their interest in learning. As a result, teachers spend an average of $500-$1000 of their own money to provide students with the supplies they need to be successful in the classroom.
That's where A Gift For Teaching (AGFT) comes in.
We are Central Florida’s primary provider of free school supplies that enable children to dream, create and experience success in school and life. We offer three ways for teachers to shop: a physical Free Store, Pencil Boy Express - The Mobile Free Store that visits schools, and Pencil Boy Online where teachers unable to visit the Free Store can submit orders online that will be delivered to them.
Since A Gift For Teaching’s inception in 1998, we have distributed $106 million in supplies (including books, essential supplies, art items, hygiene items, and clothing) to students, with more than $62,000 in supplies being distributed daily, and each teacher shop averaging $455 per month. We’ve also diverted more than 14 million pounds of goods from landfills. Our volunteers have logged over 600,000 hours through individuals and groups sorting supplies, managing the Free Store, filling and packing Pencil Boy Online orders, operating Pencil Boy Express, assisting at events, and more.
During the 2015-2016 school year alone, AGFT impacted 325 public schools and more than 6,000 teachers in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, placing essential school supplies into the hands of more than 120,000 students.
How can you get involved? A Gift For Teaching is always looking for individuals and groups to support and further the mission through supply donations, financial contributions, and volunteering.
- Donating supplies and running supply drives keep our shelves stocked so AGFT is always prepared to support children who lack the essential tools to learn (paper, pencils, crayons, markers, glue and colored pencils).
- Financial contributions allow AGFT to distribute school supplies to teacher for their students in need. For every $1 received, AGFT can provide up to $10 worth of school supplies.
- Volunteers keep AGFT running and allow us to keep a low-overhead of less than 3%, receive and sort many large donations at a time, and serve teachers most efficiently so they can focus on what matters most, the students.
For more information about A Gift For Teaching’s programs and ways to get involved, visit our website: http://www.agiftforteaching.org.