Some heroes can fly and some heroes have superhuman strength, but thousands of children in Pennsylvania need a hero with the power to give them the supplies they need to learn.
The Education Partnership’s Homeroom Heroes program is working to provide students with simple supplies like pencils, paper and glue.
“Our focus here is to get school supplies into the hands of kids that need them, and we serve Allegheny and the five surrounding counties,” program spokeswoman Katherine Harrell said.
Harrell said the organization needs items like binders, staplers, pencils and paper that are either new or lightly used.
“If a company is moving, a lot of times very valuable items just get tossed in the dumpster, but instead the Education Partnership can come in and set up these bins and instead of trashing items that can really have a second use or a second life, they can donate them and our teachers love these items and they have been very beneficial,” Harrell said.
The companies can simply donate money or items they no longer need, host product drives or volunteer time to help with inventory.
Harrell said Homerun Heroes will be serving 7,500 kids and 750 teachers this school year.
“Our qualifier is that schools have to have at least a 70 percent or more free and reduced lunch percentage, so we focus on those high-need schools,” Harrell said. “Our average actually this coming school year is 85 percent of our students are on the free and reduced lunch program.”
Harrell said the schools can apply to be a part of the program, and if picked, they go on a shopping spree.
“Teachers from those schools are invited out to the Education Partnership three times during the school year in August, January and April, and they come into our resource center which essentially looks like a store. We have shopping carts and we have walls of school supplies and most of it is new supplies,” Harrell said.
Harrell said the Education Partnership has distributed about $1.8 million worth of free supplies into the community since 2010.
She said the program saves each teacher about $1,200 a year.
“If every company who is moving or every company who is changing their name called us instead of calling a dumpster, we could take a lot of those items that are new or lightly used and put them in the hands of people who need them,” Harrell said.