How to Help Teachers Get Supplies
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13 Simple Ways to Help Teachers and Students Get the Supplies They Need

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How to Help Teachers Get Supplies
manonallard/istockphoto

In Short Supply

About $500. That's the average amount of their own money teachers spend on school supplies each year — and some say they spend much more than that, even as public education funding and teacher salaries have declined. This past summer, a little hope emerged when the #clearthelists campaign trended, urging people to provide teachers some little financial relief by donating money or items that appeared on their GoFundMe or Amazon wishlists. And, while school is already well underway, that doesn't mean that classrooms are fully stocked with basic supplies. In honor of World Teachers' Day — Saturday, Oct. 5 — here is a list of organizations that provide an easy way to help teachers — and their students — in need.

Related: Vintage School Supplies That Take Us Back to Childhood

Kids In Need Foundation
Kids In Need Foundation/Facebook

Kids In Need Foundation

This non-profit provides free school supplies to the children most in need, ensuring "that every child is prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom." Last year, KINF helped almost 200,000 teachers and more than 6 million students. In 23 years, the organization has distributed more than $1 billion in supplies. It offers a number of ways that people can help teachers and their students. There's even a KINF program called Supply a Classroom that ensures that your donations go to a teacher in need in your area.

Related: 26 Companies That Are Doing Good Deeds With Your Dollars

DonorsChoose
DonorsChoose.org/Facebook

DonorsChoose

Teachers all over the country use this site to solicit items lacking in their classroom, from basic things like books and crayons to bigger-picture matters, including money for field trips and STEM projects. Have a passion for music and the arts? Or for the special needs community? At DonorsChoose.org, you can search by subject, and even look for a teacher's request within your own community. Narrow results even more with parameters such as grade level, schools in rural areas, or schools with a majority of low-income households.

Related: 15 Ways Classrooms Have Changed Over the Past 50 Years

Operation Backpack
Volunteers of America/Facebook

Operation Backpack

If you're more of a hands-on person and don't mind shopping for school supplies using this program's lists, this Volunteers of America program accepts donated backpacks from individuals, helps community leaders run Operation Backpack drives, and offers an "Adopt a Product" program. The organization matches children in need — including those living in homeless and domestic-violence shelters — with a backpack filled with grade-specific school supplies. It supports districts in a number of urban communities across the U.S., and in 2019 provided 19,000 kids with backpacks.

Related: What Kids Carry in Their Backpacks Around the Globe

Adopt A Classroom
AdoptAClassroom.org/Facebook

Adopt A Classroom

This website offers three easy ways to give back to teachers and students: fund a teacher, fund a school, and the third, "support our mission," in which folks can donate money directly to the organization's Annual Fund. In its 21 years, this non-profit has raised $39 million — money that's helped more than 220,000 classrooms and 5.4 million students.

Operation Homefront's Back-to-School Brigade
Operation Homefront/Facebook

Operation Homefront's Back-to-School Brigade

Operated specifically for the children of military families, this program is an annual nationwide school-supply collection and distribution campaign. Partnering with Dollar Tree, the organization has given out backpacks, school supplies, and gift cards to military children for 10 years. You can organize a collection bin drive, help pick up and distribute supplies, or simply make a tax-deductible donation.

Pencils of Promise
Pencils of Promise/Facebook

Pencils of Promise

This organization is helping kids on three continents receive a better education by building schools and helping to fund their educational programming. With programs in Ghana, Guatemala, Laos, and Nicaragua, Pencils of Promise offers a number of ways to give, from one-time or monthly donations to contributions that more specifically promise to "give education," "educate a child," or "support a teacher." Since 2008, the program has built more than 500 schools, supported nearly 1,500 teachers, and impacted the lives and education of nearly 100,000 kids.

#Clearthelists
Support A Teacher - #clearthelists/Facebook

#Clearthelists

The campaign peaked in July and August, but plenty of U.S. teachers are still using it for help with school supplies. Search this hashtag on your social media accounts to track down educators still in need of classroom items. Your contributions will be gratefully received. It takes a little wading through posts to find one that's relevant — look for those that have a link to an Amazon wishlist or a GoFundMe account. And while we're on that subject …

GoFundMe
GoFundMe/Facebook

GoFundMe

Many teachers use this well-regarded crowdfunding site to help with needed supplies. Again, search by the hashtag — or simply type in "school supplies" for even more results — to find a classroom to which you can contribute. If you've got some time on your hands and want to go even further, you can even start your own #clearthelists campaign to help teachers in your community, as celebrities such as country singer Casey Donahew did.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Boys & Girls Clubs of America/Facebook

Boys & Girls Clubs of America

BGCA runs a yearly Back2School program that is supported by sponsoring partners. For example, this past August, BGCA partnered with stores like Michaels, Old Navy, and Family Dollar so that patrons could either purchase supplies and/or make cash register donations that would benefit the program. While most of this year's programs have ended, there are still a few going on through October and throughout the year.

Project: Back to School
Coalition for the Homeless, Inc./Facebook

Project: Back to School

This Coalition for the Homeless program partners with individuals, companies, schools, and law firms to collect supply-filled backpacks for children in need in New York City — where teachers on average spend more than $500 per year on supplies. According to the program's website, one in 10 students NYC students were homeless at some point during the 2018-19 school year.

Children International
Children International/Facebook

Children International

This organization aims to break the cycle of child poverty in 10 countries around the world, including the U.S. It does this in a number of ways, and one of those is through educational support — called the Education Pass fund — that not only provides school supplies, but also funding for things like uniforms, tutoring, scholarships, and more.

Research Local Programs
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Research Local Programs

Many community non-profit organizations run programs each year that provide local schools with much-needed supplies. Call your local school or district office to find one they're aware of, or search online for an organization in your area.

Do Your Own Thing
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Do Your Own Thing

Of course, you don't need to donate through an organization, or even have a child in school, to help teachers pay for supplies and further the education of children in your community. Simply fill a backpack or two and drop it off at any local school. Or get a bit more ambitious and organize a drive amongst your community, friends, family, workplace, church, or all of the above. Reference DonorsChoose list for recommendations on what teachers at every grade level need. Plus, many school districts post school supply lists near the beginning of each school year, or you can call your local school to find out what's still needed after the school year starts.