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Teachers use Web site to solicit classroom donations

Teachers use Web site to solicit classroom donations



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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Majestic Elementary School teacher Rebecca Strebel often spends more than $1,000 a year of her own money to buy classroom treats, supplies and decorations.

This year, however, she got hundreds of dollars extra from strangers who read about her classroom needs at DonorsChoose.org.

The Web site allows teachers like Strebel to post students' needs online and donors to choose how they want to help. It's a nationwide Web site that expanded to Utah in September.

More than 340 teachers have already requested supplies, with a total of $67,405 in supplies going to 8,960 Utah students so far. The site is especially popular among teachers in the Davis and Jordan school districts, said Hylan Hubbard, DonorsChoose.org. southwestern region executive director.

Strebel has requested and received 40 copies of the novel The Whipping Boy, which her fourth-grade students are reading together. She's also received storage pouches for the backs of students' chairs so they don't have to keep their books on the floor.

"I'm grateful, because I wouldn't have been able to afford them," Strebel said. "I just think the more we can do to help the kids achieve their full potential, the better off they'll be in their lives. These guys are like my kids."

The Web site was founded by a teacher in New York in 2000. Requests from Utah include items like microscopes, calculators, books, rugs and owl pellets for science experiments.

"We shouldn't have to exist, because teachers should have everything they need at their fingertips," Hubbard said. "The reality is, they don't."

Donors get to see where each dollar goes. They can choose to pay an extra fee to help run the site or they can choose to strictly send their money to the classroom.

Donors can also choose to fully fund a project or put a small amount of money toward it. When someone makes a donation, the money buys supplies, which are shipped to the teacher. Anyone who donates $100 or more or who contributes the last chunk of money toward a project gets letters and pictures of students using their gifts.

"You know exactly where the money's going," said Elizabeth Mumford, who sits on the board of the Bertin Family Foundation, which donated about $3,500 to Utah teachers through the site this year.

"Anybody who's got a kid in school knows the school system can't provide everything."

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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