Classroom Central helps curb school supply shortages for students and teachers

CHARLOTTE — Classroom Central is working to provide students and teachers the tools they need before heading back to the classroom. They’re accepting donations that will help children right here in the Charlotte area.

Channel 9′s Deneige Broom toured the west Charlotte nonprofit that looks like a store, but is missing one key piece.

“This is our free store, so teachers can come in grab a shopping cart, like they would at any store, the only difference is there are no cash registers,” said Maddy Stevens, a spokeswoman with Classroom Central. “Everything in the store is free.”

Classroom Central is a school supply paradise. Stevens says the nonprofit provides supplies to more than 200 schools in our region, but this store is only for the teachers.

“Teachers already spend one to two of their own paychecks on school supplies every single year, so that cash really adds up and with inflation we’ve seen a 38% increase in the price of school supplies,” Stevens said.

When people make donations to Classroom Central, those supplies end up directly in the hands of teachers.

“Every time a teacher shops in here they take home an average of $400 worth of free school supplies, every time they shop with us,” Stevens said.

The nonprofit has a warehouse that serves as ground zero for getting donations into the tiny hands of students. Classroom Central takes backpacks stuffed with all the essentials and hygiene products to schools where at least 50% of the students receive free or reduced lunch.

“Pencils and paper are key things that our teachers and students can’t get enough of right now,” Stevens said. “We have students who sharpen them down to the little knob and that’s what they’re using, so any help we can get with pencils goes a long way.”

Stevens says Classroom Central sets an annual goal to collect donations of one million school supplies. This year, they’d love to beat that mark.

“This year is harder than other years, because the need has increased,” she said. “With inflation, teachers and students are having a harder time getting what they need, so the need is greater, but we still have great community support and we can use all the help we can get.”

That’s where Channel 9 viewers come in. Next week, on Wednesday, Aug. 17, we’re holding a special “School Tools Collection Drive” at our studios to benefit Classroom Central.

Join us from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at our home -- 235 West 23rd Street, across from the Amtrak station -- to drop off schools supplies from the comfort of your car.

(WATCH BELOW: Expert weighs in on how to save money while back-to-school shopping)

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