Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'TEACHERS CAN MAKE ANYTHING OUT OF ANYTHING'; at the Teacher Supply Depot, They Believe in Classroom Recycling

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'TEACHERS CAN MAKE ANYTHING OUT OF ANYTHING'; at the Teacher Supply Depot, They Believe in Classroom Recycling

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

Most of us have no further use for those small plastic canisters that hold film rolls.

But teachers can add some Alka Seltzer, create mini-explosions and hold students' attention for days.

The plastic tops that adorn clothing detergent bottles? Teachers can make small planters out of them.

The thick banners advertising store sales or events? Teachers can use the back sides long after the sales and events are over.

"Teachers can make anything out of anything," said Stephanie Helm, a fifth-grade teacher at Doctors Inlet Elementary.

Helm is a master recycler in the classroom and is trying to get the rest of Clay County to follow her lead.

As co-coordinator of the Clay County Teacher Supply Depot, where new and reusable materials donated by businesses and the community are distributed to teachers, she is trying to spread the word that one person's garbage could be a teacher's treasure trove.

"Don't throw it out! We can use, reduce or recycle just about anything," she said.

At the depot, there are stacks of typical classroom needs, such as file folders, boxes of pencils and markers, file cabinets and books. But there are also growing numbers of atypical items in addition to the film cannisters and detergent tops: stacks of cigar boxes, piles of stuffed animals, swaths of fabric, boxes of bra straps and elastic strips, metal food containers, rolls of ribbon and children's toys and games, among other things.

"It's not just stuff. It's stuff teachers can creatively use," Helm said. "Teachers are resourceful."

The depot, established by the Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Clay Class of 2007, is now operated by the Clay County Education Association. Intermittent depot visits are set up for teachers, who are notified by e-mail and shop free of charge on a first-come first-served basis.

On a recent shopping day, S. Bryan Jennings Elementary teacher Lara Mick loaded a grocery bag full of items.

"It's nice to be able to come and pick out things," she said. "We can find a use for anything."

In addition to donations from businesses and the community, the depot has an exchange agreement with the Clothes Closet of Orange Park. …

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