By Cindy Kranz
Enquirer staff writer
BOND HILL - When school begins today at A.D. Owens Elementary in Newport, Donna Giglia expects that only half of her fourth-grade class will be toting school supplies.
That's why Giglia was one of dozens of teachers who stood in line Monday, waiting to shop for free supplies at Crayons to Computers' new 40,000-square-foot warehouse and store.
With help from local, state and federal officials, the organization's new location at 1350 Tennessee Ave. in Bond Hill opened with a ribbon-cutting Monday.
"The whole store is bigger, so it's a better layout," Giglia said. "They have a lot more supplies here from donors than they had before. It's a wonderful facility."
Teachers from eligible schools with high numbers of needy children "shop" for free supplies. Without the store, Giglia would be spending $400 to $500 a year out of her own pocket, as she did for years.
"A lot of our parents don't get paid until the first of the month, and so the majority of my students will come in (today), about half of them without their supplies," she said. "I give them the notebooks and pencils that I get from here, because we can't wait two weeks to get started."
Crayons to Computers opened in 1997. Today, it annually distributes more than $5 million worth of school supplies donated by corporations and individuals. It serves as a model for 24 similar stores nationwide.
Kim Nichols, of Loveland Intermediate, Donna Giglia, A. D. Owens, Newport, and Wilson Howard Willard III, superintendent of the W.E.B. DuBois Academy, at Crayons to Computers.
(Enquirer photo/CRAIG RUTTLE)
The new facility was built though a capital campaign supported by businesses, organizations and individual benefactors.
The operation will be more efficient because it consolidates four warehouses under one roof, said Shannon Carter, founder, president and CEO of Crayons to Computers.
"We're going to be able to serve more teachers in a bigger space. ... Our dream someday is to be able to serve more teachers in outlying areas," Carter said.
Tom Boggs, principal of Bond Hill Academy, was impressed by the store's appearance as he perused the shelves.
"One of the things it will do, not only for my teachers but also for other educators throughout the Tristate area, is it really will help rejuvenate them as professionals, to be able to walk into a store that is very professionally organized. It reminds me of Office Depot or Staples," Boggs said.
Lou Staffilino, executive director of the Center for the Teaching Profession of the Ohio Department of Education, plans to investigate whether the concept can be replicated in other parts of the state.
Crayons to Computers facts
Crayons to Computers serves 75,000 children, ages 6-18, from schools in 13 counties in Greater Cincinnati, including Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Teachers from 328 public, parochial and private schools may shop at the store. Teachers may shop for free if a high percentage of their students participate in the free or reduced lunch program. Any other teacher may earn a shopping trip if he or she volunteers at the store for three hours.
Last year, more than 16,000 hours of volunteer time was logged, sorting donations, stocking shelves and assisting eligible teachers.
Crayons to Computers distributes about $5 million worth of school supplies annually.
In the 2003-04 academic year, Crayons to Computers logged 16,189 teacher visits. For each shopping trip, teachers took an average of $274 worth of supplies back to the classroom.
Source: Crayons to Computers
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