Don’t Toss That Stapler

When schools are low on money, cash-strapped teachers often pick up the bill for extra supplies. A new business hopes to make it less expensive.

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Gwenda Kaczor / www.gwenda.com

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Indiana schoolteacher Lori Heiges was  vexed to hear that a local business, in a fit of redecorating, tossed out its black staplers in favor of a maroon version—especially since her request for a single classroom stapler met with “maybe next year” from school officials.  

As state and federal budgets tighten, not only do schools struggle to keep the doors open but teachers end up paying for classroom supplies, writes Frank Gray in The Journal Gazette (Feb. 27, 2011). “This can add up when you have 180 students.”

The trashed staplers propelled Heiges to found Curriculum Opportunities and Resources for Educators (CORE). The volunteer-run store collects donated business supplies and sells them to teachers at deep discounts. “In a society where going green is all the rage,” writes Gray, “CORE is an example of basic common sense.”  

CORE disperses basics like scissors, folders, and crayons. It also finds unusual supplies from unusual sources: rolls of architectural drawing paper, pipe cleaners, and electronic timers. Even the local hospital is contributing to the cause by donating batteries from devices such as ventilators, which can be used only on a single patient. “The barely used batteries accumulate in buckets,” Gray explains. “Now they’re headed for area classrooms.”