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Free school supply store opens for teachers in Clay County

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Teachers in Clay County are able to carry a little extra cash in their wallets. That’s thanks to a new school supply store located at Orange Park Junior High School.

The program is called Tools 4 Clay Schools and allows teachers to shop for supplies they need for their classrooms, free of charge. The program first launched 3 years ago, but it was strictly event-based and happened just once a year. The permanent location changes all of that.

The portable marked “Wildcats” at Orange Park Junior High School is a classroom treasure trove. At every corner, school supplies are up for grabs with some very special customers in mind. Makayla Buchanan is the executive director for Clay Education Foundation, a nonprofit which works directly with the school system to benefit public schools. CEF opened the store last week. Buchanan says the reception from teachers has been great.

“I’m constantly getting emails and comments on social media, like, ‘when can we come again?’” Buchanan said. “‘When’s it going to be open?’”

Several businesses and community members donate to make sure the store is well stocked, with Office Depot and Office Max being the primary suppliers. Buchanan says teachers typically spend around $500 or $600 on supplies for their classrooms.

“Many will say much more than that, of course,” Buchanan said. “Both my parents are teachers, so I know that firsthand. They can just come in here and alleviate some of that burden.”

Inside, you can find pencils, erasers, scissors, glue sticks, nearly everything you can think of. It even has items you may not think about right away. This includes a drawer full of headphones, staplers, tape, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and even backpacks for students who need them.

If a teacher wants to shop, all they have to do is go to the Clay Education Foundation website and schedule a time on a day the store is open. They can come shop once per quarter. Buchanan says, for now, new shops are not being scheduled, but the big focus is already on the fall. But, Buchanan says if a teacher needs something soon, they should never hesitate to ask.

“I certainly hope to believe this is making a big difference when they come through here,” Buchanan said. “You can see smiles on their faces, and they’re just so appreciative of everything in the store.”

While the items inside are free, the impact they have is priceless.

If you’re a business owner or someone in the community who wants to see about donating, you can do that by going to the same website.


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