Education

Tempe nonprofit gifts supplies to teachers

Treasures 4 Teachers helps anyone working with kids

Posted 5/23/22

Barbara Blaylock remembers the day she had the idea to start a nonprofit vividly. 

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Education

Tempe nonprofit gifts supplies to teachers

Treasures 4 Teachers helps anyone working with kids

Posted

Barbara Blaylock remembers the day she had the idea to start a nonprofit vividly. 

With a background in education, Blaylock was working for the YMCA and observing Valley classrooms nearly 20 years ago. A 4th grade teacher asked her students to get out paper and pencil to start a project. Blaylock watched as a young girl ran up to the teacher and traded one of her shoes for a pencil. When Blaylock asked the teacher about it after class, the teacher said she couldn’t risk not getting one of her few pencils returned, so students had learned to give her something as a placeholder. 

“I did some research and found out teachers were doing it all over the place,” she said. “The asked for shoes, jackets, now they ask for cell phones. There’s not enough funding for supplies for the classroom, consumable supplies especially. It’s hard to determine how much they will need and schools tell them to figure it out.”

Treasures 4 Teachers was born soon after. 

Teachers across the U.S. spend an average of $1,000 out of their own pocket to outfit their classrooms with supplies. Blaylock estimates it’s higher in Arizona. 

Treasures 4 Teachers sits in a 12,000 square-foot facility in Tempe, located at 3025 South 48th Street. There’s a large warehouse, which Blaylock calls the “Costco or Sam’s Club for teachers” and a thrift store where all proceeds go back to filling classrooms with much-needed resources. Teachers who are members can come and get free or low-cost items ranging from pens and pencils, books and furniture, to tape dispensers and staplers. A large bag is just $5 that members can fill up. 

Approximately 4,500 teachers shop with the nonprofit annually, impacting even more students.

Valley teachers aren’t the only ones who can benefit; Blaylock said the nonprofit is for anyone helping children. 

“We do serve all teachers statewide and even out of state,” she said, adding that teachers will come from as far as Flagstaff or Yuma. “If they’re 100 miles away or more, we have a day pass where they can come for $10. The other really important thing is we don’t serve just teachers, we help anybody that works with students. That includes Girl Scouts, Sunday school, parks and recreation classes, homeschools, charter schools and other nonprofits. They qualify to come get supplies.”

To become a member, teachers simply need to show proof of employment, whether it’s a school ID or a contract. 

Anyone wishing to help can donate supplies themselves, give financial donations or volunteer to help sort items. Paper and pencils, and other consumable products that get used up quickly, are always in high demand. 

Blaylock said this support is meaningful to teachers who deserve more than just one week of appreciation for the work they do. 

“We’re not just impacting kids, though of course making a difference in their lives,” she said. “It’s the same thing with teachers, for them to not feel they’re not supported. Teacher Appreciation Week is just one week, but we do it all year long.”

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