Like many teachers, when 2016 OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow Melissa Badeker changed professions, she was struck by how much stuff she had accumulated – and unsure what to do with it all. So she hoarded it all, in her basement.
“Teachers hold on to our supplies because we put a lot of time and effort into them. We think maybe we’ll go back to teaching. Or we know how valuable they would be to someone else,” Badeker says. “Until the day my husband and I were about to move to a different house – and I had no choice but to throw them all away, and literally I cried. It was really upsetting. Pretty much from that moment on, I thought no one should have to do that again. Every teacher I know needs things.”
So she and a colleague, former teacher Kathleen Williams, decided to do something about the piles and piles of supplies they knew gathered in teachers’ classroom closets, home attics and in school building basements. Together, they started the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap to get the folders and crayons and paper and textbooks and scissors and glue sticks into the hands of teachers who can use them.
Today, the Teacher Supply Swap is growing and thriving. A recent article in the Baltimore Sun highlighted the success of Badeker’s efforts. And Badeker is looking to do even more with the swap, hoping to start a delivery service, for example, and make the inventory tracking system more sophisticated so that teachers can place orders for what they need online.
“We’re here to help the teachers,” Badeker says. “And whatever the teachers tell us they need, we do our best to make it happen.”