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Crayons to Computers helps students learn and teachers save money during pandemic

Posted at 5:43 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 17:50:28-04

CINCINNATI — Teachers are adjusting the way they’ll be teaching in this upcoming school year, and a local organization that hands out free school supplies is shifting the way it gives back to the community.

Tracy Sheridan, who teaches English as a second language at Roselawn Condon Arts and Sciences School, said she would spend thousands of dollars if Crayons to Computers wasn’t around.

“For me, it’s critical,” Sheridan said. “My students don’t come with stuff in their back pocket.”

The charitable donates school supplies to teachers who work in schools where 60% or more of the student population is on free or reduced lunch.

“The bottom line is kids still need basic school supplies in order to be successful in their learning, and learning must go on,” said Crayons to Computers president and CEO Amy Cheney.

The charity set up a drive-thru distribution this year because of COVID-19. Cars pull up, and volunteers fill their trunks with supplies.

“They’re going to receive a kit — a tote back with a number of supply items in it — a case of binders and a flower arrangement to make their remote learning environment a little more attractive as well,” Cheney said.

Representatives of the nonprofit said some teachers can spend anywhere from $500 to $1,000 of their own money every year on school supplies, which is just another reason why this drive-thru is so important.

“That’s a pretty big hit because teacher’s salaries are not among the highest in the land,” Cheney said. “But they care.”

Cheney said that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were around 150,000 kids in need across the 16 counties they serve. Now, the need is even greater.

“There are so many families struggling with unemployment, and if you can’t put food on your table for your family, you aren’t going to be able to provide school supplies,” she said.

Cheney said the organization’s goal is to hand out around 2,000 kits this year.

“I probably would come about four times a year,” Sheridan said. “If I didn’t have the support, I’d be going to Staples and spending my own money.”

It's hard to know what to expect this year as kids, families and teachers prepare to go back to school. Nothing is certain in a pandemic, but hopefully we can make going back to school a little bit easier.

Click here to find the back-to-school safety plan for 54 school districts in our area.

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