July 20th marked the opening of Kids In Need for the 2015/2016 school year. Kids In Need is a “free store for teachers” that was founded in 2000 by the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The program provides school supplies to teachers from schools where 80% of students are enrolled in the federal free and reduced lunch program.
Kids In Need receives donations from manufacturers, retail stores and school supply drives. In the 2014/2015 school year, Kids In Need served 5,689 teachers and distributed 805,342 pounds worth of school supplies. That is a 32% increase in supplies from the previous year. This year, Kids In Need hopes to raise those numbers.
The program relies on volunteers to assist in the process of getting the supplies to teachers. Volunteers may assist teachers in the shopping process, help with the weighing of items at the door, or help load cars with supplies. “Without volunteers we couldn’t do what we do,” says program leader, Moshica Wallace. “They’re greatly, greatly needed.”
Teacher Judy Williams visits Kids In Need twice a year.
“Because of this, I don’t have to purchase the supplies myself or put the cost on parents who can’t afford it,” Williams said.
One visit per semester is all it takes for the materials to last the teachers the school year. When they arrive, they’re given a clipboard with a list of available items in the store, which helps them see what’s available and how much of each item a single teacher can receive.
Lisa Kemp teaches art at two different schools in Dekalb County. “There are a lot of international kids at my schools who’ve come here for a better life. This,” she says, holding up a composition book, “is very special to them.”
Wallace says one of the best things about volunteering at Kids In Need is getting to see the faces of the teachers after they get the school supplies. “Our volunteers tell us it makes the experience so worthwhile.”
“Working with Kids In Need is different from volunteering in the Product Rescue Center,” said volunteer Libby Anderson. “It’s more of a one on one experience.”
Interested in volunteering with Kids In Need, individually or with a group? Learn more here.