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Cristina Gan is standing in the store trying to decide between big box of pencils or the package of  32 colored markers. She’s not buying school supplies for her child, but for her classroom in Carson, CA. which doesn’t have enough textbooks, let alone pencils for the students. Each year, many teachers like Ms Gan spend their own money outfitting their classrooms, money they can ill afford.

Unlike richer school districts which ask parent for donations, many of her students parents already work two jobs and are struggling to just put food on the table.

Cristina is lovely strawberry blonde, with an adorable toddler at home and a doting husband, and has always wanted to be a teacher. She’s the kind of instructor you wish you had in elementary school. And she’s going broke trying to keep her class stocked.

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She told us that “even basic supplies tend to be in demand – crayons are only given to us to distribute at the beginning of the year and of course they break, get lost, etc. Things like printer ink I end up paying for, and frequently I buy other basics like pencils, markers – things can get beat up pretty fast too and they are not replaced often enough. Games and activities for them to work on when they are finished with their work are also really needed.”

“I think most teachers spend at least $ 200 a year on their class,” Christina adds. “When I heard about Donors Choose, first at a staff meeting and then from my teacher friends’ posts on FB, I thought I’d try it.”

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When Oprah Winfrey heard about the site she talked about on it her show, calling it a “a revolutionary charity.” Fifteen seconds later, the site crashed under the strain of all the traffic. When it came back up, viewers had donated $250,000 to classroom projects.

In a nutshell, DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from all over the U.S. post classroom project requests on the site, and you can give any amount to the project that most inspires you. You chose. For $5 you can be a philanthropist.

When a project reaches its funding goal, the site ships the materials to the school. You’ll get photos of the project taking place, a letter from the teacher, and insight into how every dollar was spent. Give over $50 and you’ll also receive hand-written thank-you’s from the students. Like this:

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Here’s what our favorite new teacher posted about her class:

“My students are predominately English Language learners from a low-income area in California. They are enthusiastic learners who are often lacking the resources and support they need in order to succeed in the classroom. Our school is a Title 1 school meaning that the majority of our students qualify for a free or reduced price lunch.”

MS Gan is trying to buy writing supplies and learning books from Lakeshore Learning Materials, who make the best — and smartest — educational materials. The total amount she’s trying to raise is $266. Not much, but huge for her class. (And yes, our next e-mail is to Lakeshore to see if they will sponsor some of the classes in these “High Poverty” schools. )

Teachers Ask. You Choose. It doesn’t get any easier than that so go ahead and contribute. You’ll feel warm all over. Guaranteed.

DIRECT LINK: Donors Chose Gan.

 

 

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