Treasures for Teachers helping schools in need

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Unionville-Chadds Ford schools donate to help needy Delaware Valley schools

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

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The giant collection of materials donated by Unionville Elementary School teachers to aid a North Philadelphia elementary school. Hillendale teachers donated earlier this year, while Chadds Ford and Pocopson will be participating later this summer.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — A what would normally be a quiet July morning at Unionville Elementary School, there was a sudden rush of activity as a large white truck pulled up at the school.

The truck, donated by Two Men and Truck from Glen Mills, was there to pick up old, used educational materials from the school, headed for a needy public school in North Philadelphia. While normally these old, out of use materials would end up in a landfill, Treasures for Teachers, a group dedicated to taking unused, old items from better-off school districts and matching it up to needy schools, is beginning to change that.

A number of students from Unionville High School came to help load the truck — taking time out on a morning they could have slept in.

Cristen Zipf, who formerly was an elementary school teacher in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, is running the program from her home in southwest Delaware County, finding materials and matching them up with schools in Philadelphia, Chester, Bristol and Wilmington, Del. The schools must be publicly funded and have a free/reduced lunch rate above 50% to qualify for donations.

The stacks of materials, mostly dating from 2001, filled more than a dozen pallets in the Unionville Elementary garage. A similar — if not even larger — amount was donated from Hillendale earlier this year, while both Pocopson and Chadds Ford elementary schools plan to donate later this summer as well.

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Former Unionville-Chadds Ford teacher Cristen Zipf (left) helps to load educational materials into a truck donated by Two Men and a Truck of Glen Mills, for delivery to a North Philadelphia public elementary school.

Zipf says many of these schools are just scraping by — and while the older curriculum materials are a bit out of date, they’re newer — and in much better condition — than the materials currently in use. But, as nice as these donations are, she said the needs are even more basic for some of these schools.

“The biggest request is for pencils,” she said, “Pencils and paper. Even used crayons. These schools are really hurting for consumables — many teachers have to buy their own supplies, or ask parents to send in paper.”

Treasures for Teachers collects a wide range of school materials, ranging from books and study guides to furniture — largely through its Facebook page, which helps to match up schools to help others.

Zipf said that local schools have been great about stepping up to help out their colleagues in more economically challenged areas, and she hopes that as word spreads the greater community is able to contribute as well. Those interested in contributing can contact her directly via email.

She said that support in the community has been great — that a lot of people in the suburban counties are beginning to understand the need to support local urban areas, as issues there tend to ripple out to more suburban and rural areas with time.

She singled out local companies that have been strong supporters of the effort, including Two Men and A Truck of Glen Mills, Art Beat of Chadds Ford, and Gabriele Design of Garnet Valley.

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