When I attended edcampindy last June, and edcampfw this May, one of my colleagues signed my up to moderate a session about freebies. We are teachers, we all love to get stuff for free, so I decided as we get close to the school year beginning, why not do a quick list of places that offer free things for teachers. Some are local shops, some are online sites. I am sure there are even more than what I am publishing, but at least my list is a start.
1. Donors Choose. I tried this one a few years ago and had no luck but I decided to give it another shot and voila, within two weeks, I was fully funded. The site allows you to create an account, you receive three points upon registration and you spend the points to create projects. I created two, one for library books and the other for library seating. You have some writing to do, some details to fill out, but, once you are funded and you complete the steps donors choose requires of you (thank you letters, notification packets, PR, etc.) you receive more points and start it over again. I am going to do another on in the spring and try to get the Rosie Award/ YHBA books. I ended up with half my titles coming through this site.
2. Best Buy. Little do many know but your local Best Buy will do a program in your school and give you $1000 to spend in their store. I spoke to the manager at my local and found out they will come to school carnivals and bring xbox, wii, playstations and use that as a time donation, or they offered to come in and show my students digital technology/ eReaders and how to use them and the benefits of one versus the other. They send a few employees, kids benefit from it by getting money back. I am going to try to get them to the school carnival with the gaming systems and use the money to buy a gaming system for the library.
3. Kohls. Many have heard the slogan of Kohls Cares. They really do care. All of their employees are required to do community service. So, Kohls will send a group to your school, do a project for a certain amount of time and after it is completed, give you $500. They redid our softball field a few years back. I am going to see if they will come in and help repaint the library for me or help with the book fair.
4. Lowes. Lowes does a toolbox for education that provides money to schools and parent groups. The link has all the details.
5. AdoptAClassroom This site allows you to create an account and publicize it via social media, websites, etc. You can fundraise or just let your balance grow. After you have money, you shop for school supplies. They ship them right to you. You can even put a widget on your blog so people can link right from it.
6. Supply Our Schools This site is a little bit like donors choose but it is sponsored through Office Depot. You create an account, create a shopping list of school supplies and as people donate them to you, they ship right to your school. It is a great way to get construction paper, markers, pens, paper, etc. Teachers who are members are also eligible for a day in October when Office Depot surprises teachers with a $1000 gift card. Sounds exciting to me!
7. Ask local businesses. I learned from some of my colleagues that local businesses offer special programs for schools as well. My local Walmart will donate left over clearance items to schools. You contact the store manager and ask to be on the list. Applebees will donate meal cards to support reading programs and for academics. Many fast food restaurants will have special fund raiser nights donating proceeds to your school or PAC.
The key to freebies, is asking. Call around, you will be surprised how many businesses are willing to help educators.