School supplies can be very expensive, just ask any teacher. Art teacher Elaine Kalakas says running a classroom can cost hundreds of dollars.
"The students pay a fee but some students can't afford the fee so the art supplies come out of the teachers' pocket. Last year I averaged about $800 out of my pocket on school supplies and that was just the basic needs," she said.
A decent set of paintbrushes costs around $5 to $8, not very much; but when you have hundreds of students going through about 5 packs a year, that cost can really add up. Now, there is a way to help. Tuesday evening, the Huntsville school system unveiled Virtual Volunteer. The website volunteer.hsv-k12.org is open to anyone in the community who wants to volunteer supplies, money, or time.
Visitors can see the wish lists of teachers from all over Huntsville. There are also filtering options so the needs of individual schools can be viewed. Kalakas says she is already using the new system.
"I've posted several materials needed for this classroom: paint supplies, drawing pads. We need brushes. We need charcoal. Anything and everything to get us through the day, we need."
Your time is just as good as monetary gifts. Rena Anderson, the Director of Community Engagement, says many of the requests are for helpers in the classroom.
"There is a teacher who wants folks who know how to play chess to come in and help with the chess club," she said. "We are looking at peoples' skills and their talents and we want them to come share them with our students."
This new website is just one more way the school system is moving forward in the digital world.
"Going digital with our curriculum and going with a brand new website, now let's go online with matching up our volunteers with the school needs. Our doors are open for business. Come on in. We need you."
All volunteers do have to register and are subject to a background check to ensure the safety of students.