Durham, N.C. — Teachers have to rely on the school system to pay for supplies, but when that money runs out, they are left spending their own money.
“When that runs out, we have to go into our own purses to supply what’s needed for the students,” said Renee Timberlake, a teacher at Eastway Elementary in Durham.
With the economy struggling, Timberlake said that's happening more often.
To help combat the problem, non-profit group Crayons 2 Calculators – The Durham Teacher Warehouse Corporation provides free school supplies to Durham Public School teachers.
“They really can’t believe the impact that that makes in their classroom,” said Jenna Boitano, the group’s executive director.
As the name suggest, the group collects everything from crayons to calculators.
“To some of our youth having that package of pencils or those glue sticks will really make a huge difference to them,” Boitano said.
Teachers spend up to $500 a year out of their own pockets on school supplies, according the Crayons 2 Calculators Web site.
Eastway officials said the school has about $6,000 for supplies. In a school with more than 600 students that averages to less than $10 a child. “That’s not enough,” Timberlake said.
Crayons 2 Calculators frequently runs supply drives in Durham.
Teachers can apply for Crayons 2 Calculators, but Boitano said the group targets schools where there are a large number of children who receive free and reduced-priced lunch.
Wake County Human Services has a program that reaches families more directly. Its program Project School Buddies provides students with backpacks filled with school supplies.
“The demand is actually overwhelming, which is why we’re trying to get as many sponsorships as we can,” said Elaine Mejia, of Wake County Human Services.
To be eligible for Project School Buddies, a child’s guardian must already be receiving financial assistance from Wake County Human Services.
Collection bins for Project School Buddies are located at the office of Wake County Human Services, located at 10 Sunnybrook Road in Raleigh, Triangle Town Center, Cary Towne Center and all Wake County Walgreen’s locations.
Donations are accepted until Aug. 12.
Without these donations, teachers may not be able to get as many supplies and students could suffer, Timberlake said.
“They’ll do without. It’s just really something you don’t want to see,” Timberlake said.