UTICA, NY-- When hundreds of teachers throughout the state are dealing budget cuts and funding shortages, a local organization is offering tangible support with free classroom supplies.
The Compassion Coalition, located on 509, Lafayette Street in downtown Utica opened the 'Equipped to Teach' store, earlier this week. There's a brightly lit section of the warehouse organized with notebooks, pencils, pens, binders even tissues, all designed to help local teachers.
"We started to do mobile deliveries of product that we are getting in by the truckload," said Rachel Daughtry, director of agency relations at the coalition. "We would appoint teachers at each site and then they would disbursed to other teachers and it got to be so much site that we decided, why don't we create a space right here at our ...warehouse just for teachers."
The organization is a community-based warehouse that provides food, clothing and other items to local agencies that serve people living in poverty.
"We do these massive back-to-school giveaways but then January, February comes around and crayons break, pencils break, notebooks get used up, composition books go missing," she said. "So the beautiful thing about this is that we're going to keep doing it throughout the year...we're hoping to have it open eight months out of the year."
For now the store is only serving teachers in the Utica City School District, but if the store receives more financial support, Daughtry said the store will serve more districts, as long as at least 70 percent of their students are in the free or reduced-price lunch program.
"We'd really love for people to get involved with this, we need volunteers," Daughtry said. "I know a lot of local retired school teachers are really interested in coming to volunteer, we would love, love, love to have you. We just need help stocking and greeting the teachers, helping them to their cars. Also if you want be a corporate sponsor would love to have you too."
For more information or to donate visit: www.distributehope.com