Teachers turn to Web for help with supplies
September 03, 2013 10:20 AM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Some schoolteachers in Philadelphia are looking to the Internet to raise money for basic school supplies amid ongoing budget shortfalls.

Philadelphia is one of the nation’s largest school districts, serving more than 190,000 traditional and charter school students, and it’s been working for several months to close a budget deficit of nearly $304 million. Until the district recently received $50 million in emergency aid, officials feared they wouldn’t be able to open in time for fall classes.

Allison Wudarski, a kindergarten teacher at the Julia deBurgos School in the Kensington section of the city, said her budget for school supplies each year is around $100 — and she doesn’t expect that to increase any time soon.

Necessary supplies, she said, often come out of her own pocket.

“You want to give them everything, but it’s a little hard financially to do that,” Wudarski said.

To offset some of those costs, Wudarski has been raising money for supplies online and has gotten funding from people she doesn’t even know. Websites like DonorsChoose.org and Indiegogo allow teachers to crowd fund everything from scissors to musical instruments.

“I’ve gotten a ton of books and things like writing notebooks, crayons and paper, pencils,” she said.

On the website DonorsChoose.org, teachers list the specific supplies they need on a campaign page where anyone can donate any amount. Once a campaign is funded, the organization sends the items to the teachers.

Melanie Duppins of DonorsChoose.org said there is typically a surge in the number of campaigns launched this time of year as teachers prepare for the fall.

And although that means there are a lot more campaigns for donors to choose from, she said, this is the time of year when corporate sponsorship spikes as well.

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