KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Teachers are used to reaching into their pockets to spend their own hard-earned dollars to buy needed classroom items. But as educators prepare for a school year like nothing they’ve dealt with before, many will need new and extra supplies.
Two metro women are now helping make a dent in their wish lists.
Patrick Stinson teaches social studies at Eisenhower Middle School in Kansas City, Kan. For the first time in his career, those classes will start virtual this year.
“It makes it hard to plan, just in terms of how we deliver content,” Stinson said.
He created this Amazon wish list and is hoping to get some teaching tools to help in the online classroom, and once school resumes in-person, he knows he’ll need extra supplies.
“I think definitely the things we’ve needed in the past — I think we’re going to need more of. Just because with COVID, they’re not supposed to share materials, so things like pencils and art material,” Stinson said.
Items like hand sanitizer and tissues are in big demand, too.
Thanks to friends Carrie Stewart and Marissa Wickam, some of those wish lists are getting checked off through the “Operation: Teacher’s Toolbox KC” Facebook group.
“It’s been amazing to watch the group grow and see the area in which we’re covering,” said Wickam, co-founder of the Operation: Teacher’s Toolbox KC page.
The idea came from Stewart’s aunt, who teaches in another city and benefited from a similar page dedicated to matching teachers with people in the community wanting to help them.
“I got on Facebook and looked for the same type of site in Kansas City, assuming we already had one because we’re Kansas City! We’re the most charitable city in the country. Obviously someone’s already thought of this, and I couldn’t find it,” Stewart said.
So Stewart and Wickam created their own.
In less than a week, it’s gained more than 1,500 followers. Items teachers are requesting stretch from traditional school supplies and protective equipment to books helping kids understand COVID-19.
“Our stake in this game is just to help as many of them as we can,” Stewart said.
The page is flooded with teacher lists, but now needs more donors. Anyone in the community can join and search by school to find a teacher you’d like to support this fall.
“That really helps us put our focus on these kiddos. How can we educate them best? How can we make sure they’re OK at school, at home, and that their needs are met?” Stinson said.
Stewart and Wickam are also hoping local businesses will join their Facebook page to help sponsor teachers.