March 4, 2021 – Every year, South Carolina teachers spend an average of $433 of their own money on classroom supplies, while many businesses have an office closet crammed with half-used materials they are likely to discard.
Now two Upstate nonprofits are offering to redirect unwanted items from clogged closets into the classrooms of first-year teachers. The initiative is the brainchild of Public Education Partners and ReCraft, which is South Carolina’s first creative reuse center diverting locally-sourced “waste” materials away from the landfill and into the hands of teachers, artists, and kids.
On March 26th, ReCraft and Public Education Partners will collect office supply surplus from local businesses and distribute them for free to first-year public school teachers in Greenville County.
“Every office closet has that half-filled box of unused supplies,” says ReCraft Executive Director Grant Cothran. “It sits there because nobody wants to throw usable stuff in the dumpster. Meanwhile, teachers are scrambling for materials. We’re starting this drive because we saw a clear community need and a home for all those orphaned legal pads and markers. We’re not just collecting new office supplies – we want the half-used pencils, too. The need for school supplies right now is staggering.”
Many teachers’ back-to-school stockpiles are running on empty with just a few months left of the school year. Because of the pandemic, fewer supplies were donated in the fall, and teacher budgets are stretched even further. Public Education Partners and ReCraft will initially distribute materials to Greenville County’s 300 first-year teachers, many of whom find themselves “bootstrapping” through the end of the year.
“Our initiative is modeled on successful efforts to stock food pantries and provide Back-To-School backpacks,” adds Cothran. “A community drive is a proven way to connect Greenville’s office surplus to under-resourced teachers and their students. Don’t throw it in the dumpster – give it to us! We know a teacher who wants it.”
Businesses should donate usable items by bringing them to Synergy Mill Makerspace (400 Birnie Street in Greenville’s West End) on Friday, March 26 from 11am to 6 pm. Businesses can message questions through Facebook or Instagram (@recraftgvl or @pepgreenville).