National News

Thousands of teachers turn out for free school supplies

Posted July 20

— Barbara Nibbs has taught at the GIVE Center East for about 10 years, and she's noticed the dwindling resources given to teachers to buy school supplies to stock their classrooms.

So for the third straight year, Nibbs made it to the Infinite Energy Center on Wednesday to pick up a free bag of $40 worth of school supplies from Kroger. The grocery store chain has given thousands of teachers free school supplies for several years. This year, Kroger expected to give away 3,000 bags each at Infinite Energy Center and at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"A lot of kids are without tissues, paper towels," Nibbs said. "Money for supplies is limited now, so this is very helpful in the classroom and helping the kids on a daily basis."

Along with the paper products, Kroger employees also stuffed bags with dry erase markers, baggies, copy paper and construction paper. The teachers were given a blue reusable Kroger bag and walked down a line to collect supplies as they went.

"We know that these are things they need in their classroom," Customer Communications Manager Lori Smith said. "For us, it's to give back to the community. There's nobody that impacts our children more than teachers. So we're very glad to be able to do something for the teachers who do so much for our kids. Teachers take a lot out of their own wallet."

Smith and Nibbs each noted that teachers previously received a stipend to buy school supplies, but that went away several years ago. Nibbs said in the winter, things like tissues, hand sanitizer and paper towels are especially valuable.

The program, which started six or seven years ago, Smith said, has expanded to Macon and Augusta, along with the two in the Atlanta area.

The Gwinnett site was so well received, Kroger employees listed teachers who came for the supplies said they worked in school districts around the area, including Gwinnett County Public Schools, Atlanta Public Schools, Forsyth, Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton county schools.

One of those was DeKalb elementary teacher Latanji Burroughs, who lives in Covington.

"We get a lot of disadvantaged kids at our school, and a lot of them aren't able to bring supplies with them," she said. "Me not having to buy all the supplies, this will help out with the ones who do bring them."

Burroughs added that copy paper and tissues are among the first things to go during the year. Burroughs said she used to receive $100 from the PTA, but that was years ago, and went away.

"Anything I don't have, I have to purchase," she said. "I keep a supply of pencils, crayons. A lot of times students come and don't have that."

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