Teachers Turning To Free Supply Shops To Outfit Their Classrooms

Teachers say supply swaps are making a real dent in the amount of money they pay every year out of pocket for classroom supplies.

Victoria Gomez waits at a "checkout" table as two volunteers count up her finds: puzzles, felt, storage bins and wooden shelves. "My last [credit] card bill was $1,000 and that's just from last month, just for school supplies and things for my classroom," she tells them.

Gomez is now a kindergarten teacher at The Chatsworth School in Baltimore County. In her two years as a teacher, she has switched grade levels three times.

She came to the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap for the first time last February, after she was asked to switch from fifth grade to second grade — with one day's notice. Gomez says she panicked — she didn't have any of the materials she needed. She got to the swap warehouse minutes before closing time.

"The people here stayed late. They helped me come up with solutions so that everything worked out, and probably 70 percent of the stuff in

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