August 6, 2008

Give Supplies and Help a Teacher

By Jamie Kennedy Jones, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.

Aug. 6--Last year, educators visited the Teacher Supply Warehouse about 130 times each month.

There they picked up the donated notebooks, craft materials and other supplies they needed to get through the school year.

"And it's all thanks to the community groups, individuals and businesses of Guilford County," said Cecilia Adams, manager of community partnerships for the school system.

The warehouse, which reopened Tuesday, needs donations of all basic school supplies as well as facial tissues, containers and other things you'd find in a classroom. Other items, such as fabric scraps or foam blocks, can be used for art projects or as creative learning tools. Items with business logos are accepted.

The warehouse can serve teachers from 67 of the county's neediest schools now, but Adams wants to add more schools to the list this year. The schools will be added in the order of their percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunches.

"The amount of schools that we can realistically serve really depends on the community," Adams said.

The warehouse also relies on volunteers. Individuals and community groups can help out, as well as businesses. "That's a really great way a company could do some team building," Adams said.

The Volunteer Center of Greensboro wants local businesses to get involved in education, too.

The Harvest for Teachers program, formerly known as Fill the Bus, matches businesses to schools. Each school gives its business a wish list of supplies.

"Teachers at every school need support when it comes to purchasing those items," even those where most students don't come from poor families, said Aaron Hunt, the Volunteer Center's new program director.

Hunt also wants to boost the volunteering aspect of the program.

"It's something that differentiates the program," he said. "It's in line with our mission."

He wants to encourage employees from the participating businesses to spend more time in the schools or with the PTAs. They could mentor students, do landscaping projects to improve a school's campus or help the PTA with fundraising.

Forty-four schools have a business match through Harvest for Teachers, but the Volunteer Center wants to help more of the county's 120 public schools.

Becoming a school's supporter "is something a small business can do," Hunt said.

Contact Jamie Kennedy Jones at [email protected] or 449-4610.


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