Volunteers give teachers free school supplies

By Anna Carrera

Published 11/09 2013 07:15PM

Updated 11/11 2013 11:01AM

CHAMPAIGN-URBANA -- With dwindling budgets from the state, a volunteer group is helping teachers make ends meet. The Junior League of Champaign-Urbana lets teachers shop the warehouse for free.

It's something teachers say helps them out, especially while times are tough. When money's tight, some teachers find themselves digging into their own pocketbooks to find spare change.

"Most of the time, go out and get it ourselves," said Jaime Williams, who is a first grade teacher at Urbana's Prairie Elementary.

The teachers say their budgets have taken a big hit lately.

"It's been decreasing as well," said Urbana Prairie Elementary first grade teacher Heather Dunn. "We started out with $500 and now it's like $300."

But when they run out of green, they're not quite out of options thanks to the Junior League and its teacher warehouse.

"Some of our kids don't have the supplies they need for school so it really helps out to be able to come in here and get some of the things we need," said Williams.

You don't need money there, just points. Teachers gets a certain number based on how many students at their school get free- or reduced-price lunches. That number seems to keep climbing.

"It wasn't huge increases, but definitely points went up this year," said Junior League locker chair Emily Donohoe.

Donohoe says they started this project a few years back, filling the gaps by getting supplies school districts can't.

"We buy them," said Donohoe. "We have a budget every year that we're given based on our fundraising efforts from the previous year and we just make the dollars go as far as we can."

And for that, teachers say they're grateful as they pick what they need to take back to class. 

Teachers can stop by the warehouse once each quarter. They just have to bring their school ID and sign some paperwork. The next time the shop will be open is December 4.

For more information, click here.

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