Last week, WYPR’s On the Record began a series of profiles about OSI-Baltimore 2016 Community Fellows. They started with a profile of Melissa Badeker and her project, the Baltimore Teachers Supply Swap, a service that collects supplies from teachers, schools, businesses and individuals and redistributes them –for free — to those who need them.
The Swap was started after Badeker, with a basement full of unused supplies from her five years of teaching elementary school in Baltimore City, realized there was no system by which to pass her surplus on to another educator. She ended up throwing everything away.
“I was very upset,” she said, not only because “a lot of love and money went into those supplies, but mostly because I knew someone out there could use it.”
Not long after, she and a friend, former teacher Kathleen Williams, started collecting unused or extra supplies from other teachers, setting up a kind of pop-up store to give them away to anyone who could use them. The Baltimore Teachers Supply Swap evolved from there.
The Swap now has dedicated space in south Baltimore and Badeker plans to use her OSI-Baltimore Community Fellowship to expand the effort, adding more hours to the times teachers, daycare providers and home school parents can come shop, and adding more materials for them to choose from. She’d like to develop a delivery service for teachers who may not be able to get to the shop on Wicomico Street, too, as well as a closet-cleaning service for teachers who have significant supplies but not enough time to organize and donate.
And the feedback from teachers? They are “so thrilled, so happy, so thankful” for the Swap.