Cheers For Our Volunteers: A Special Appreciation Note

By Maria and Teege, A Gift for Teaching

Every month during the school year, hundreds of thousands of teachers flock to A Gift for Teaching for free supplies. Ensuring that they get the valuable classroom supplies they need for their students’ education is a huge job. Fortunately, A Gift for Teaching has the most incredible team of dedicated volunteers to serve Orange County’s teachers.

This school year alone, more than 6,300 volunteer hours have been logged, which equates to a value of more than $190,120 of service. These numbers just scratch the surface of the true impact and hard work of our volunteers.

Every morning, inspiring individuals rise at the crack of dawn to arrive at our Free Teacher Supply Store and prepare it for teacher appointments the same day, including some Saturdays. Not only do these volunteers stock shelves, they also arrange our store products so that the shopping experience is as welcoming and inviting as possible for our teachers.

Everything they touch, they sprinkle with a little bit of love.

During shopping hours, volunteers work with our teachers one-on-one. Greeted by a team of smiling faces, our teachers know they are in great hands as they make their way in and out of our doors with our volunteers at the ready, never hesitating to assist any way they can.

Our team also depends and deeply values our Pencil Boy Curbside volunteers. We are fortunate to have groups and individuals on a monthly basis, from September to April, who power this program born out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These volunteers do everything from fulfilling teachers’ custom orders, hand-packaging boxes, shelving hundreds of supplies for pick-up, and personally delivering these boxes to cars upon arrival. The packing warehouse can get humid and some orders can be quite large, incurring heavy lifting, so we sincerely appreciate each volunteer who makes this convenient shopping option a success.

Lastly, every week between the months of September and April, our Pencil Boy Express – The Mobile Free Store travels to schools that are 10 miles or further from A Gift For Teaching to bring the shopping experience to teachers where they work and live. We are lucky to have dedicated volunteers that assist us with these pop-up events by helping with check-in, check-out and keeping our mobile unit shelves stocked.

These Pencil Boy Express volunteers travel on their own accord to meet us at schools all around Orange County, including far corners such as Apopka, Bithlo, and Ocoee.

While these volunteers enjoy being outdoors and interacting with teachers, being outdoors sometimes exposes them to the elements. Good natured and adaptable, our volunteers have dealt with rain, wind, heat as well as very sunny Florida conditions – and do it all with a smile! There has been nearly 30 visits by our mobile unit this year with an average of 64 shoppers per visit, all under two hours.

A Gift For Teaching is extremely grateful to these volunteers as they help reach even more teachers with much needed supplies every school year. Our program operation is truly a collaboration, a village with a passion for serving educators in our community, and we are so proud of the positive environment our volunteers have helped to create for our community’s educators.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your service. Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week!