Pencil Boy
by Pencil Boy
March 13, 2020

Our Response to COVID-19

Wednesday, April 21, 2020

The Salvation Army Receives Large Donation To Help Provide Emotional & Spiritual Care.

During these unprecedented times, The Salvation Army is providing shelter, food, water, and, spiritual & emotional care to residents impacted by COVID-19. The Salvation Army of Orlando is receiving a pallet of school supplies as well as arts & craft projects from A Gift For Teaching. Through this donation, we hope to give our children and families a distraction that can bring peace to their lives as we end the first month of the mandatory curfew and week two of the ‘Stay at Home’ executive order.

Over the past few years, researchers have discovered the positive impact that painting, dancing, and other arts can have on a person’s mental health. “This donation creates a new way for us to care for people emotionally and spiritually,” said Captain Ken Chapman, Area Commander of The Salvation Army of Orlando. “We are so grateful for this partnership with A Gift For Teaching.”

A Gift For Teaching is Central Florida’s primary provider of free school supplies to teachers for their students in need. “Our students have been facing many challenges to distance learning, especially those who do not have access to learning supplies outside of the classroom. It is our pleasure to collaborate with community impact partners and support COVID-19 relief efforts for local children to continue their education and creative learning while schools remain closed,” said Jane Thompson, President of A Gift For Teaching.

To continue COVID-19 relief operations, please consider starting a virtual supply drive with Facebook Fundraiser or making an online gift at www.AGiftForTeaching.org/double. Big or small, every donation received during relief efforts will be DOUBLED, up to $5,000, thanks to Addition Financial!


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Gift For Teaching Supports Community Partners Serving Students Living In Homelessness

More than 6,000 Orange County Public School students live in homelessness without a dedicated address to call home. Throughout the school year, A Gift For Teaching provides essentials beyond traditional school supplies to teachers to help ensure every student has the tools and experiences they need to succeed; such as new clothing, hygiene items, books, and engaging projects for learning. With school closures extended through May 1, access to educational resources has become an exceedingly greater challenge for students trying to learn without safe, permanent, and affordable housing.

As part of its continued COVID-19 relief efforts, A Gift For Teaching is strategically working with community impact partners, including Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, to reach local children that would otherwise not have the opportunity to access the supplies they need to continue their education outside of school due to economic struggles their families may already face.

We are very thankful that A Gift For Teaching has been able to provide supplies for the children who currently reside at the Coalition. These resources have helped alleviate some of the challenges we are facing as local schools have switched to distance learning.

In addition to the school supplies, crafts and activity books were also donated – these were very much appreciated by the children to use while they stay home and practice social distancing. One mom said ‘[My kids] loved decorating the photo frames and making the door hanger project. It made their day to receive something to do that was fun.’ Thank you!

-Kristen Pena, Director of Community Engagement at Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida

Lack of supplies impacts a student’s ability to actively engage in their education, and their interest to continue learning. Now, in the midst of schooling outside of the traditional classroom, filling this gap is even more crucial than ever. During this time of constant change, access to tools for students to participate in distance learning, online or offline, will help continue a sense of day-to-day routine as well as prevent an abrupt pause in their delicate educational journey.

 A Gift For Teaching has been able to provide more than $61,000 worth of free supplies in relief efforts to keep education attainable for students in Central Florida. But that will not be enough as reduced work hours, furloughs, and layoffs continue to deeply affect an increasing number of families and children in our community each day.

To continue COVID-19 relief operations, A Gift For Teaching is humbly asking able members of the community to consider making a generous online gift at www.AGiftForTeaching.org/double or start a virtual supply drive with Facebook Fundraiser. Big or small, every donation received during relief efforts will be DOUBLED, up to $5,000, thanks to Addition Financial.

Local businesses can also help by donating wrapped and palletized in-kind surplus materials such as branded and/or non-branded notebooks, writing pads, printer paper/cardstock, writing utensils, index cards, folders, and coloring materials. Please contact info@agiftforteaching.org for delivery details.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Gift For Teaching Distributes Nearly 2,000 Family Learning Kits To Support Distance Learning

Teachers have been working hard to prepare new daily lessons, online and offline, to be delivered to their students for distance digital learning, but they’ve shared one consistent concern with A Gift For Teaching: many of their students will not have any school supplies at home to complete these assignments – not even a piece of paper or sharpened pencil for notes.

COVID-19 has already hurt thousands of Central Florida families and children on the delicate edge of poverty. Imagine being forced to choose between rent, food, and childcare due to school closures; let alone school supplies for your children to continue learning at home.

In Orange County, students in middle and high school have already been issued digital learning devices earlier this year as a part of the school district’s ongoing LaunchED 1:1 digital learning plan. Unfortunately, LaunchED has not yet reached all students in elementary schools. The digital learning plan also does not fully address internet access for families unable to afford at-home connectivity – making this population most at-risk for accessible quality education during these uncertain and complicated times.

Currently, A Gift For Teaching is strategically working with Orange County Public Schools’ Homeless Liaison Director in addition to community impact partners, and has already begun filling this gap in access to equitable education. So far nearly 2,000 at-home Family Learning Kits have been distributed to 11 elementary schools serving as “Grab-and-Go” food locations for students in need.

Similar to the “Grab-and-Go” meals, Family Learning Kit distribution will be managed by the OCPS staff onsite. Students do not need to attend the school where the kits are distributed. Families and children are able to go to any of the schools to pick up kits, while supplies last. One kit is available per family and includes enough learning supplies for multiple children in a household to be able to actively and successfully participate in their education at home, whether it is online or offline. Supplies include pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, notebooks, workbooks, crayons, and other essentials.

A Gift For Teaching continues to closely collaborate with the school district and its teachers to monitor the progress of distance learning as well as further strengthen and identify ways to safely and effectively support both those teaching and those learning at home.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 200,000 students could not afford lunch, let alone school supplies. Every day, more and more Central Floridians are falling victim to difficult circumstances as their income becomes unreliable through business closures, reduced hours, or layoffs.

To meet the continuing unexpected influx of need, A Gift For Teaching is asking members of the community to consider giving a meaningful online gift, big or small, at www.AGiftForTeaching.org/double. For every $1 received, up to $5,000, Addition Financial will double the donation to provide up to $20 worth of supplies to those in need.

Businesses can also help by donating bulk in-kind surplus materials such as branded and/or non-branded notebooks, writing pads, printer paper/cardstock, writing utensils, index cards, folders, and coloring materials. Please contact info@agiftforteaching.org for delivery details.

With 22 years of experience as Central Florida’s primary provider of free school supplies, A Gift For Teaching aims to continue to ensure every student has the tools and experiences they need to succeed. With the constant change in the community, teacher-facilitated distance learning at home will provide a much-needed routine for our children, and, together, we can help provide a sense of normalcy in our students during these complicated times.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Response To Recent School Closures: Our Commitment To Local Students 

These are uncertain and complicated times, especially for children in the community. On Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced all schools will be closed to students until April 15th to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. Plans for students to return to school are continually being evaluated as the situation progresses. Under the direction of the Department of Education, Orange County Public Schools will continue instruction for our students through virtual distance learning starting March 30th

While we navigate this time of constant change together, one thing remains consistent: A Gift For Teaching is committed to ensuring every student has the tools and experiences they need to succeed. 

As we all work to take precautions to protect the health and safety of our community, we believe it is important to also recognize the intensive impact that lies ahead: 

  • More than 200,000 of our local students rely heavily on going to school for daily nutritious meals and access to essential tools—like paper and pencils—to learn 
  • Many low-income families do not have internet access nor devices readily available, especially those with children in grades K-5, making virtual learning at home unreliable 
  • Disruptions in our economy due to business closures as well as global production and freight will ultimately affect the accessibility of school supplies for the coming school year 

At A Gift For Teaching, we are prepared to shift all available resources to help meet these urgent needsbut we can’t do it without you! 

Our team is working closely with Orange County Public Schools and community impact partners to assess the immediate needs of our teachers, students, and their families. We will continue to update you as we learn about how you can help safely and effectively support those in need during this difficult time. 

Thank you in advance for your compassion and for your continued support. 

P.S. If you have the ability to give today, no matter how big or small, please consider making a gift online to help us continue our operations. The Bond Foundation will match all donations received through March 31st for The Ready To Read Book Drive, up to $2,500, to double the school supplies provided to local students in need. Give at AGiftForTeaching.org/double today. 

Sincerely, 

Jane Thompson
President of A Gift For Teaching 


Friday, March 13, 2020

To Our Supporters:

Like you, A Gift For Teaching has been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving impact of COVID-19.

Due to recent public health safety developments, A Gift For Teaching has made the following decisions in an abundance of caution in our role to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 in our community:

  • A Gift For Teaching will be closed to the public through the end of March, effective today. Our team will be working remotely during this time and will be available to assist by remotely monitoring the main phone line as well as through email communication. If you have a large quantity of supplies to donate, please email dan@agiftforteaching.org to coordinate delivery.
  • The Free Teacher Supply Store will also be closed through the end of March. At this time, we plan to resume teacher shopping on April 7th. Should this change, we will continue to communicate directly with our teachers in a timely manner.
  • School visits by Pencil Boy Express – The Mobile Free Store will also be cancelled through the end of March. Our team will be working with the host schools to determine the feasibility of future visits for the remainder of the school year.

We will continue to monitor precautionary measures and provide updates as the health and safety of our students, teachers, community supporters, and staff is the utmost importance to us.

On behalf of A Gift For Teaching, we thank you for your understanding and encourage everyone to continue following the CDC’s steps to prevent illness.

Sincerely,

Jane Thompson
President of A Gift For Teaching

Our Partners

  • OCPS
  • Disney
  • KINF
  • A Gift For Teaching of Osceola County