Free 2 Teach in Huntsville is the only free school supply store in the state of Alabama. They give out supplies and resources to teachers throughout North Alabama. Their main goals is to show support for educators in our community.
"I was out doing volunteer work for another non-profit, there was a large box of supplies there and we were trying to put together an art kit, and someone said 'wouldn't you have liked to have that when you were teaching?' And I said well yeah,'" said Eula Battle, the Executive Director of Free 2 Teach.
That's how the idea of Free 2 Teach began.
It started in 2010 as a much smaller operation. In the first year, the store gave out around $38,000 worth of school supplies to teachers.
"We came to realize, why don't we go talk to businesses about things they aren't using anymore? Teachers will take a hand me down," added Battle.
Through business partnerships and individual donations, Free 2 Teach quickly grew.
It's now housed in a 10,000 square foot warehouse. Teachers in Huntsville City, Madison City and Madison County schools district can shop for their classes up to 5 times a year.
On average, each teacher will take away $549 in supplies and resources from the shop for free.
This year, Free 2 Teach gave away $1.2 million of supplies to 3,800 teachers in North Alabama.
" Our focus as an organization is getting supplies into the hands of students who need them most. So we are getting teachers what they need for their classrooms, we're getting kids what they need to learn," said Alison Kling, Development Director at Free 2 Teach.
Kling was previously a school teacher who knows the financial impact teaching has on a family.
"What I know from my own experience is you often do pay out of pocket. I was reading quotes from our facebook page and articles and I saw again and again spouses of our teachers are saying 'this is changing our families budget, you are making our financial future different,'" added Kling.
The store will reopen for teachers to shop in July.
Right now, they are working to reorganize the store. Volunteers and donations are always welcome.
For information on how you can help, visit https://www.free-2-teach.org/