What would you do if your boss told you to pay for supplies you need to do your job? From now on paper clips, staplers and file folders are on you!

Suppose the job superintendent said the company would no longer be providing equipment to finish the contract? Rental for the front loader, dump truck and concrete mixer will have to go on your credit card.

Would you put up with that?

Teachers paid more than movie stars

That’s the choice school teachers face. Pay for supplies or do without, short-changing the schoolchildren One survey found that almost 90% of teachers pay for supplies Another found that teachers spent more than $1,330,000,000.00 (that’s billion with a B) out of their own pockets for classroom materials like pencils, erasers and glue.

One teacher at Superstition Mountain Elementary School in Apache Junction, Arizona writes:

Due to state cut backs our school no longer provides pencils, erasers, writing paper, construction paper, glue, markers, student materials of all kinds. When I do projects in my classroom or need anything for hands-on learning I buy it myself. We need so many things such as small white boards and dry-erase markers, glue sticks, red pens, highlighters, spiral notebooks, small baskets to hold student supplies in desks, manilla folders, pocket folders and the list goes on.  (Source)

This is a ready-made, low-cost, no heavy lifting way for your church to give meaningful service and show genuine care for teachers, students and the community 

Here are four simple steps your can follow to step into the breach.

#1 Collect supplies for teachers

Launch a “supplies drive” this Sunday. Gather and give inexpensive items to bless school teachers by relieving their already stretched budgets. Here’s how to do it:

  • Send out a mid-week email blast to the congregation
  • Put it up on the front page of your website
  • Put on Facebook, Twitter and SMS for your folks
  • Put a collection bin at the entrance(s) to the sanctuary
  • Encourage people to grab a few items at their favorite discount store
  • Deliver the gathered treasure to the head teacher(s) or principal(s) of the nearest schools

Needed items may vary from school district to school district. Pick up the phone and ask 

Here’s what I’ve heard from friends and family about supplies:

  • Pencils
  • Composition Notebooks
  • Expo markers
  • Reams of copy paper
  • Snacks (67% of teachers buy food items to satisfy basic nutritional needs of their students, even thous enrolled in meal programs)
  • Watercolor paints
  • Easels and easel pads
  • calculators

#2 Provide meaningful services

The start of the school year is “go time” for teachers and staff. Getting classrooms ready, setting the bar for student behavior and performance and settling into a new schedule wring a lot of emotional and physical energy out of everyone.

Several friends have suggested ways that church members could bless the schools and teachers with a few hours of volunteer service.

  • Work with school nurses during health screenings
  • Volunteer to staff the school store for a few weeks at the beginning of the school year
  • Volunteer to tutor or read the children
  • Recruit volunteers from other churches and help them get needed security clearances
  • Provide evening meals for the teachers and their families
  • Cater a luncheon for teachers and staff (but make the politicians pay for their own)
  • Run the photocopier for a few days (“a huge time sink” one teacher says)

#3 Provide essential items for children

It is fairly common for school teachers to give basic personal care and hygiene items for children in poorer school districts. While your church is collecting supplies for teachers, be sure to remember the students’ needs:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Clothing
  • Cold weather gear
  • Money for field trips

#4 Rinse and Repeat

Keep close records about how you do it this year. This becomes the basis of a procedure manual so you can do this every year from now on.

  • How did you get the word out?
  • Which were the most effective communications channels?
  • What sorts of goods and services did people give in abundance?
  • Who delivered the goods and services?
  • How were they received?
  • Any victory stories to share?

Finally, urge your folks or your church to become part of the Adopt A Classroom movement.