I love it when I get to visit any of World Vision’s teacher resource centers in cities across the United States. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of that sense of excitement I felt when I started a new school year, with my brand-new book bag filled with untouched notebooks and unsharpened pencils.
Or maybe it’s because it’s fun to watch teachers as they navigate the aisles with their shopping carts piled high with supplies. They express such joy over a notebook, eraser, or stick of glue.
I remember a trip a couple of years ago when I was at the warehouse in Chicago while some teachers from Roosevelt School in Cicero, Illinois, picked out their free materials. They called across the space to each other with shouts like "Did you see these?" or "Can you believe this?"
Claudia Jimenez, the school’s principal, said that of the nearly 700 students at her school, 90 percent were on free or reduced lunches. She knew that many parents couldn't afford to buy school supplies for their children. The resources she and other teachers picked up that day would help fill in the gap.
Claudia said it made a difference to her students when they had brand new supplies -- items that weren’t hand-me-downs. “I think it’s more motivating to make them want to learn,” she said.
That day, I also met Laura Garcia, a sixth-grade teacher at Roosevelt. Her enthusiastic response to World Vision’s teacher resource center still makes me laugh.
“It’s amazing!" she said. "It was like Christmas for us. Our students need so many supplies."
Laura likened her classroom to running another household, with lots of little expenses to keep it well-stocked for the students.
"By us getting these supplies, then we maybe have a little more money to bring in the non-essentials like Kleenex [and] paper towels," she said.
According to research by the National School Supply and Equipment Association, a trade association for educational product companies, public school teachers in the United States spent more than $1.33 billion of their own money on school supplies and instructional materials in the 2009-2010 school year.
Educators with access to World Vision’s teacher resource center might be able to spend just a little less. Claudia said to the donors: "'Thank you' is not enough for what you're providing.”
People may think that something so small as a pen or a stick of glue doesn’t mean much. But watching those teachers that day, I can tell you that it made a world of difference to them -- and, ultimately, to the children they serve.
It really was like Christmas -- maybe even a little bit better.
Read related post: Building backpacks: A tangible demonstration of God's love
As the U.S. economy continues to struggle, World Vision is working to fill the gap for American families who have a hard time making ends meet and can't afford basic school supplies for their children.
Make a one-time donation to help provide school supplies for children right here in the United States. Thanks to corporate partnerships and donations, your gift will multiply 12 times in impact to help deliver items like books, videos, pens, pencils, crayons, educational games, sports equipment, and more.