The first day of school is around the corner, and many teachers are gearing up for the waves of students who will pour into their classrooms on Aug. 14.
To help alleviate the out-of-pocket expenses that many teachers incur at the start of every school year, Live to Give hosted Supply a Teacher supply drive that collected boxes of school supplies from business around the city, put them into kits and gave them away to teachers Saturday afternoon.
A line of about 75 teachers, many with their small children in tow, wound through the first floor of the Galleria at Sunset mall in anticipation of the giveaway.
Event organizer Leticia Apablaza said the turnout exceeded her expectations.
“This is our first year so we were hoping to hit about 200, 250 teachers and I’m confident that we reached that goal and way more,” she said of the event sponsored by Live to Give, a cause marketing company that connects brands to causes.
Apablaza said one teacher told her she has paid up to $2,000 to supply a classroom.
“I hope it brings light to our community to see a need to help our teachers during the Back to School time of year,” she said. “Helping our teachers also helps our students.”
Throughout the afternoon children watched a magic show, took lessons from a Youth Dance Academy instructor and learned to play KnockerBall soccer, a game where players are enclosed in inflatable spheres and bounce against each other.
Teachers who attended the Supply A Teacher giveaway also could sign up for a raffle to win prizes such as gift baskets from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf gift baskets, fitness classes, Wet n’ Wild passes, and a party box from Raising Cane’s.
Four elementary school teachers attending the event together expressed gratitude for the supply kits. While noting the kits will help make a dent in the out-of-pocket money they spend, they said the kits aren’t enough to make up the difference between what Clark County School District supplies and what they need for their classrooms.
Kenda Bartholomew, a teacher for 19 years, said she spends $500 to $700 a year on school supplies.
“We have so many projects that we do that a lot of times the schools don’t supply the materials that we need,” said Bartholomew, 42, who will teach fourth graders and fifth graders this year.
“They don’t supply any reading material for classrooms, at all, ever,” 40-year-old Stephanie Williams, chimed in. “Usually I’ll spend at least $200 or $300 at the beginning of the year and then several hundred dollars throughout the year.”
The elementary school teachers’ kits included a folder, two spiral-bound notebooks and a small bundle of pens, pencils and markers.
“Every little bit helps,” Williams said, “but this is for one person, this is not for 25 students.”
Monica Bryant, 32, said she would prefer class sets of a single supply over a bundle of a variety of supplies, so that even if she received one item, such as crayons, she would have enough to give that one item to every kid.
“When I taught in Kentucky, my school gave us $500 so you could use that to help buy stuff that you needed for the year, but it wasn’t every school,” said Bryant, who was an elementary school teacher for four years before becoming an elementary school counselor.
Khadyjah Thomas, 26, said this is her first year teaching second grade after working as a substitute teacher for three years in other states.
“Because the schools in this district are so different, there’s not a set amount of supplies that every school is going to be giving you,” Thomas said. “Some schools have a plethora of supplies and other schools don’t have anything, pretty much.”
Thomas, who said she’ll find out Wednesday what kind of supplies she’ll receive from McWilliams Elementary School, has spent $200 a month of her own money on materials for class projects.
“If I find something I like to do with the kids and it’s going to be fun and interesting and very engaging, I’ll spend extra money,” she said. “It’s a loss monetarily, but it’s a gain for the kids.”
Thomas had hoped Saturday’s event would give away more supplies, “but definitely anything helps,” she said.
Contact Kimber Laux at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @lauxkimber on Twitter.