By Curt Yeomans
More than 50 teachers at Church Street Elementary School are going to have a little help getting through Thanksgiving without running out of school supplies.
Lanii Thomas, a Riverdale resident and founder of Tools 4 Teachers, is using her organization to collect donations of school supplies for Clayton County teachers. Thomas solicits local businesses and organizations to offer their used office supplies, or unsold items from back-to-school sales.
She began with Church Street Elementary School because it is her neighborhood school, and she wanted to help out her community.
"I've been looking for a way to get involved in my community, and as I was doing some research on the internet. I found other groups, in other states, which were doing similar programs," Thomas said.
Tools 4 Teachers began on Monday with a small distribution of three boxes of school supplies to Church Street. The donations included folders, composition books, pencil holders, erasers, highlighters, dry erase pens, and packets of college-ruled paper.
"The teachers will be so grateful to receive these supplies for the kids," said Debra Bostick-Smith, the principal at Church Street Elementary. "Teachers usually start running out of supplies just after Thanksgiving, so this will help them go a little bit longer."
Bostick-Smith also said the donations will help because 95 percent of Church Street's students qualify for free and reduced lunches. Bostick-Smith wrote a letter for Thomas, which the Tools 4 Teachers founder takes to local business owners to show that she really is working for the teachers.
"It's people like Ms. Thomas that makes a difference in education," said the principal in her letter.
Thomas said the benefit of collecting supplies for teachers, rather than gathering them and giving them to parents, is that the educators can make sure all of the students have an equal amount of supplies.
"The unique thing about this program is that the supplies are going to the teachers, not the parents, and the teachers can issue the supplies to their students based on need," Thomas said.
Thomas is also looking for a 5,000-square-foot facility, to serve as a warehouse which would house all of the supplies. Eventually, Thomas plans to use the warehouse as a place to sell supplies to teachers at a low price throughout the year.
Anyone who wishes to make a donation to Tools 4 Teachers, can contact Bostick-Smith at (770) 994-4000, or Thomas at (404) 963-0330.