Teachers find help for supplies from local stores

In a time of shrinking economies and tightening school budgets, it can be more difficult for Mississippi’s school teachers to get supplies for their classrooms.
Those teachers have been getting some help from private donors and companies this year.
At Shannon Elementary last week, third-grade inclusion teacher Sonya Williams won $1,000 worth of school supplies from Office Max.
Williams was in her classroom helping students prepare for nine-weeks tests when representatives of Office Max, school administrators and even members of Williams’ family showed up in her classroom to surprise her with two large boxes from the store.
“It was overwhelming,” said Williams, who received a desk chair and a printer as well as supplies like paper, folders, pencils and index cards. “These were things we would have had to buy on our own. Teachers have to spend a lot of their own money.”
Blake Cowley, store manager of the Office Max in Tupelo, said his company did a study and found that teachers spend about $1,000 of their own money on school supplies, which was the reason it created its “Day Made Better” prize.
Last year, the company rewarded a teacher at Verona Elementary and at Pierce Street Elementary with similar awards.
Other companies have their own programs. Local Walmart stores recently held raffles at both Verona Elementary and Shannon Elementary. At each school, all the teachers’ names were put into a hat and 10 teachers were selected to each receive $100 gift cards to buy supplies at Walmart.
“The people at Walmart realize how much teachers take out of their own pocket to buy the school supplies they need and that is why they realize there is a real need for this,” said Carolyn Jones, community involvement coordinator of the Walmart store on North Gloster.
Throughout the month of September, Sonic held a Limeades for Learning promotion in which public school teachers could submit project ideas and anyone who bought a drink from Sonic would get a code to vote online for which projects would receive funding.
Shannon Elementary Principal Ida Brand said that budget cuts have made it more difficult for teachers to get supplies this year.
“Anytime someone can step in and fill in a need, it makes your day better,” Brand said. “Someone is looking out for you and they are helping to fill that gap. One of the most important things we have is our community and the support they give us.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or at chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal