By transferring community surplus supplies at no cost, the Free Store annually distributes millions of essential resources to teachers and students in need.
A Gift For Teaching
More than 210,000 of the students in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties come from families that can't afford lunch, let alone school supplies. More than 13,000 of these children are homeless and that number continues to rise each year. A Gift For Teaching (AGFT) is Central Florida's primary provider of free school supplies to teachers for their students in need.
Throughout the organization's 18 year history, AGFT has distributed over $100 million worth of school supplies including books, backpacks, paper, crayons and even new socks and underwear. AGFT annually serves 338 public schools and more than 14,000 teachers in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties by transferring supplies and merchandise into the hands of 120,000 students in need through its educational supply store where teachers "shop" for free materials.
The 2015-16 school year was one of major milestones at A Gift For Teaching. The most transformational milestone, though, was the launch of AGFT’s Pencil Boy Programs. In just one school year, Pencil Boy Express – The Mobile Free Store made it possible for 1,300 more teachers to shop for free, impacting nearly 20,000 more students in need across 30 low-income schools in Orange County. Our web-based Free Store, Pencil Boy Online, has attracted more than 1,000 teachers, placing orders for their 20,000 underserved students. These two programs mark a pivotal shift in the access to school supplies that low-income students in our community have. These students can now face the future knowing they are equipped with the tools they need. The launch of these two new programs enabled AGFT to distribute $10.2 million overall in supplies this past school year…a 20% growth in distribution in just one year.
A Gift For Teaching also supports several other successful community-based programs. Since its creation in 1999, the "A Gift For Music" program has become AGFT's largest and has touched the lives of more than 8,000 students and families in Central Florida by providing violins, violas, cellos and instruction free of charge to students who otherwise would never have the chance to play a stringed instrument. This highly successful program expands students' knowledge of the world of music, awards them a productive outlet in which to express their creativity, and opens another door for them to shine.