Photo by Corinne Nicholson
NORCROSS -- In the past, Mercedes Guillermo opened her wallet to purchase supplies for her classroom.
But after furlough days trimmed her paychecks, Guillermo said she didn't have the extra cash to stock up on paper, tissues and hand sanitizer.
Guillermo, who teaches math to kindergarten through fifth-grade students at Beaver Ridge Elementary School, was one of hundreds of teachers who stopped by the North Atlanta Trade Center on Friday to pick up nearly $50 worth of school supplies, courtesy of Kroger's Atlanta Division.
"This is great," Guillermo said, "great to share these things with teachers and the community that needs it."
Items given to teachers included copier paper, construction paper, hand sanitizer, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, cotton balls, dry erase markers, facial tissues, sandwich bags, adhesive bandages, transparent tape and paper plates.
"This small stuff is really needed in the classroom," said Denise Caldwell, a school social worker who was picking up supplies for Lilburn Middle School. "A lot of kids can't afford this small stuff we take for granted."
Sharon Cosby, a kindergarten teacher at the new Ferguson Elementary School, said budget cuts -- at school and at home -- have made it more difficult to obtain the supplies.
"Even though we have supply lists we send to homes, (many families) can't afford it," Cosby said.
In all, Kroger had $220,000 in supplies to give away.
Lori Smith, the advertising manager for Kroger's Atlanta Division, said the supplies that were provided were items most often requested by teachers.
"We're really excited about being able to help the teachers this year, knowing that it's a really tough time," Smith said.
Gwinnett County Public Schools has three furlough days planned this year for most employees, including teachers. Two of those days -- Monday and Tuesday -- cut preplanning short for the second year in a row, and a third day is planned for Oct. 11.
District officials said the furlough days will save the school system $15.6 million.
Kroger's giveaway also celebrated the beginning of the grocer's 2010-11 Earning Plus Learning program, which contributes up to $500,000 to elementary and middle schools, as well as graduating high school seniors annually.
For more information about Earning Plus Learning, visit www.krogerearningpluslearning.com.