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In her first year of teaching, Christine Rebelo spent several hundred dollars of her money to stock school and office supplies in her classroom at Brown International Academy.
"I just wanted my kids to have all the things they needed," she said.
Rebelo got a little relief this month with the opening of the Teacher Supply Depot, a recurring project of the Hamilton County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations. The depot, first opened in 2003, allows teachers such as Rebelo to pick up donated school supplies at no cost.
Depot organizers say they've already given area teachers thousands of dollars in supplies this year. And to keep the doors open, the PTA is asking for more donations.
"We really never know what we're getting," said Badiema Waldrep, president of the Hamilton County Council of PTAs. "We just accept whatever we can get."
Waldrep said the depot was designed to help bridge the gaps left by slashed school budgets. And not all families can afford to purchase all the school supplies requested by teachers every year, she said.
After opening once this month, she said the depot will again invite teachers in October, November and February -- and once in April if enough supplies are available.
Located at the now-closed Mary Ann Garber School at 2225 Roanoke Ave., the depot is open to teachers who are members of any Hamilton County PTA.
County teachers receive $100 annually in state funds to help stock classrooms, though Rebelo said it's often not enough. And stocks can run low on even the most basic of items. The items students bring at the beginning of school, if they bring them at all, don't tend to last the whole academic year.
She said her classroom of 19 students runs through supplies such as notebook paper very quickly -- it takes 19 pieces of paper for her class to complete just one assignment.
"When you do that several times a day, that's a lot," she said.
Rebelo said she picked up small items like pencils, pens and notebooks at her recent trip to the depot.
"Those little things add up quickly cost-wise," she said.