#SomethingGood: Viral Facebook Campaign Helps Local Teachers Get Free School Supplies

The average public school teacher in the United States usually pays about $480 out of their own pockets each school year. That’s according to the latest study from the National Center of Education Statistics. 

Courtney Jones, a teacher from Tyler, Texas, knows that feeling all too well. It's why she started a now-viral, social media campaign in July to get teachers some much-needed help.

"I started this to give teachers a place to support each other," Jones said. "Oftentimes, we are always giving of ourselves to everyone else and I wanted to have a place where we could support each other on a deeper, more meaningful level. My goal is to change educational funding policies through this movement and make the public aware of these funding issues."

Country artist and Burleson native Casey Donahew has helped spread the word on social media about a campaign called 'Clear the Lists.' It's designed to give teachers help procuring the items they need in time for the first day of school.

The original campaign soon went viral and there have been similar ones created in the last few weeks. 

"I had no idea that it would take off like this. Veteran teachers have explained to me how this movement has been the best thing to happen to education in all of their careers. Brand new teachers are going in with a head start that many of us never dreamed of having," said Jones.

One of those new teachers benefiting from the Facebook campaign is Lake Worth Independent School District 4th grade teacher, Taylor Pruett.

“[I’ve received] books for my classroom library, tape, pencils for my students, markers,” said Pruett.

This will be Pruett’s first year teaching.

"As a first year teacher it’s exciting but I’m also nervous because it’s hard to kind of get everything that you need for your classroom. You’re starting from scratch so this group has helped get my classroom up and running," said Pruett.

She said it's all thanks to the #ClearTheLists campaign. 

Tens of thousands of teachers from across the country have joined the Facebook group. Each teacher creates an Amazon.com wish list full of supplies they would like for their classroom this school year. Through the generosity of strangers, the items are purchased and sent directly to the teachers.

Pruett has been on the receiving end of that generosity in a big way.

“There was one day that I received 17 packages,” Pruett said. 

She said she is just thankful so thankful. People who realize that just like students, teachers need a little extra boost sometimes too. 

Jones said she is also thankful for the support, but more importantly, she hopes it shows others the lengths teachers will go to in order to support their students. 

"I’m completely moved by the national outpouring of love and support. I only hope that it brings it to the forefront of our nation that we HAVE TO do better for our teachers, but ultimately for the generations of students currently in our schools. We are the medium in which all lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, bus drivers, presidents, legislators, and change makers go through. We must provide our teachers with better wages, better resources, better support, and better opportunities to grow so that our students in America receive the best education possible," said Jones.

ONLINE: Connect with the movement on Twitter, Instagram and the Support A Teacher website.

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