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Like many parents, I remember the days of sending my two kids off to school on their first day, armed to the teeth with an ever-growing haul of school supplies. Looking back, my husband and I lamented the stress of that time of year, but in truth we were the lucky ones. According  to the Education Commission, there are currently 274 million children worldwide who are not learning the basic skills necessary to lead productive and healthy lives[i].

One of the challenges that teachers face today is keeping vital school supplies stocked throughout the year. According to the NCES 2011–2012 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), K-12 public school teachers in the U.S. spend $459* on average on school supplies for which they are not reimbursed.

How can you help? Private Ocean is committed to supporting our local communities, and this year, we donated backpacks stocked with school supplies to San Pedro Elementary in San Rafael, which serves 526 students in grades Kindergarten-5, to help lighten the load of the unsung heroes who educate our children for nine months of the year.

School supply donations are often welcomed with open arms in public schools, with many backpack drives popping up across the country in recent months. And speaking with teachers across the country (thanks to personal connections and good old social media), we also received insight into what exactly teachers need to keep their classrooms stocked for their students.  Here are some hot items that teachers have told us are in short supply (or quickly used):

  • Backpacks or book bags
  • Dry erase markers and erasers (Dry erase markers are higher priced items and every student in class often needs one).
  • Calculators
  • Pencils
  • Hardcover books for classroom libraries, and for preschool children, books that can withstand a little wear and tear. “They get worn out quickly and younger children rip them or eat them!” One teacher told us.
  • Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Art supplies in general – glue, paper, scissors, and  “Brushes last about a semester,” said one teacher.

Whether or not you have children or grandchildren to send off to school this fall, it’s important to remember that it really does take a village! In speaking to Jenny Weller at San Pedro Elementary, who said, “You have no idea what a difference this makes for a school like this,” each one of us can make a difference if we work together.

Get Involved:

  • Contact local libraries and grocery stores to see if there are schools looking for supply donations.
  • Adopt a school! If you know a teacher or administrator, work with them to set up something with your company as a team building activity that does good for the community!

For more websites that can help you find ways to donate to classrooms, read The Top 10 Websites To Help Teachers Fund Everything.



*adjusted for inflation to 2018 figures.

[i]The Learning Generation, Education Commission, p. 33,