Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap is a great reason to clean out your office.

“When you see posters, pictures, pencils, and supplies in a classroom, more than likely, a teacher paid for that,” said Melissa Badeker, co-founder of the super-cool nonprofit Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap.

Together with Kathleen Williams, Badeker solved this school supply “distribution” problem with help from an Open Society Institute-Baltimore grant. The former Baltimore City teachers opened a school supply hub where educators can shop for classroom materials at no cost. Since 2014, they’ve swapped $78,000 worth of supplies that would have most likely been trashed. Learn from their effort how you can shop, donate or volunteer and help make Baltimore’s schools better and teachers happier.

School teachers spend $500 out of their pocket each year on school supplies, books, and educational aids. As a former Baltimore City teacher, Badeker knew this issue personally because she spent upward of $1,000 in some years. During their teaching tenures, Badeker and Williams noticed that loads of unused school supplies were simply tossed. The question was, how to get the extra supplies in the hands of teachers?

Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap’s co-founder, Melissa Badeker, said the thousands of donated binders currently in their warehouse will fly out the door for the 2017-18 school year.

Their solution is the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap located near the M&T Bank Stadium. The large warehouse space, shared with the equally impressive Baltimore Community ToolBank, is stuffed with binders, paper, writing implements, arts and crafts, school books and classroom-consumable supplies like paper, pens, markers and composition pads.

Want to Help or Shop?

For teachers:

Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap is open for free shopping on Thursdays between 3-5:30 p.m., and Saturdays between 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. (no appointment required). You’re advised to bring your own bags. If you want to be in-the-know about the swap, you can become a member for free. Also, consider completing the Baltimore Teacher School Swap’s teacher school supplies survey so that you can help craft the next phase of the free supply hub.

For donors:

If you are cleaning out an office, a school’s supply closet or decluttering your house, drop off your extra supplies to the Baltimore Teachers Supply Swap on Thursdays between 3-5:30 p.m. or Saturdays between 11-2 p.m. The acceptable donations list is long: school and office supplies, classroom materials, arts and crafts, curriculum supplements, early childhood play time and educator books (not novels and readers). If delivering downtown is a no-go, no worries; just email and the team will schedule a free pick-up.

Thanks in advance for sharing this post with your teacher friends. As the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap network grows, more teachers can help facilitate getting extra supplies out of school closets and into the hands of teachers and their students.

Baltimore-area educators can shop-for-free school supplies for their smart pupils. Did we mention that it’s free?

Baltimore Teacher Supply Shop is located at 1224 Wicomico Street, about five blocks west of M&T Bank Stadium.

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Laurel Peltier

Laurel Peltier writes the environment GreenLaurel column every Thursday in the Baltimore Fishbowl.