$1 million in school supplies goes to local teachers in need in the face of pandemic challenges and teacher shortages


ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Employee and supply shortages are impacting all industries. It is now making its way into schools and impacting students and teachers in the classroom. With cash-strapped schools and stretching teachers, any help goes a long way.

On Wednesday afternoon, KidSmart hosted a Back to School with the Bucks Giveaway Day at Ballpark Village. Several St. Louis volunteers have come together to donate $1 million worth of school supplies to teachers in need in the most vulnerable communities.

The campaign served more than 800 teachers in the region. Each teacher received approximately $1,300 worth of school supplies for their class and students.

“Due to the pandemic parents have lost a lot so they don’t have the resources they need and it will help everyone get on the same page with what they need to excel in the classroom. “, explained Yolanda Manley.

Manley has taught at Jefferson Elementary in North City for 10 years. She said having those supplies was especially crucial this year after two years of COVID-19.

“I can’t wait to give them to the kids,” said Brandi Belger.

Belger has been in the classroom for over 20 years. Teaching Jennings, she says, has its challenges. However, this drive is something she and her students look forward to.

With this campaign targeting underserved classrooms in the area, it helps with material items. Teachers told News 4 that there are still other post-pandemic challenges, like understaffing, that pose additional hurdles.

“We have more students. It can be a bit overwhelming,” Manley said.

“It comes in the form of not having the support in case the teachers need to go out. We don’t have submarines or those cover things,” Belger said.

Byron Clemens, who represents St. Louis Public School teachers, said about 100 teachers are still short. The problem, he said, comes down to salary or lack thereof.

“We need continued support. Some school districts are reducing to four days a week. We are all in trouble. It’s a common thread across Missouri,” Clemens explained.

A Common Denominator Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday he was addressing.

“There is more money there than ever. We’re trying to raise teachers’ salaries, trying to retain teachers,” Parson said.

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