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Why you should think twice before throwing out those old crayons

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On average, kids in the U.S. spend around 943 hours each year in the classroom.

And in those hours, teachers are expected to educate them and keep them safe.

But many teachers are also expected to buy their own supplies to perform these functions.

During the 2013-2014 school year, teachers spent an average $513 out-of-pocket on classroom supplies, instructional materials, books for their classrooms, and professional development.

Georgia-based special education teacher Brandi Poole told Forbes:

I probably spend between $800 to $1,000 a year, and I have a small class of less than 15 students. A lot of students do not bring in school supplies at all. Although we have a couple of churches that donate, it's not enough to supply the 400 plus students in our school. We are not given money to purchase stuff that we need to teach the material that we are supposed to teach.

Oklahoma-based teacher DeAnn Moran told The Huffington Post:

We as teachers have to find ways to be creative because I’m going to do whatever it takes to be creative for our children, even if that means it comes out of my pocket.

Many of our public schools are chronically underfunded and short on supplies. This is especially true in, but not limited to, high-poverty areas.

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About three-quarters of teachers send home a school supply list at the beginning of the school year, and parents donating supplies to their kid's class or providing their own child with supplies to use can lessen the burden, if they can afford it.

But that's also where organizations like the Crayon Collection come in.

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit is working to recycle some of the 150 million crayons that get thrown out in the U.S. each year.

Crayons that can be helping little hands create, instead of in a landfill.

Although you can help with the collection effort year-round, March 31 is the Crayon Collection's National Crayon Day.

They encourage people who want to help to set up crayon donation boxes at their local churches, temples, community centers or libraries.

They are also interested in the crayons that are left behind after dinner at restaurants.

The crayons can then be donated to a local Title I school or Head Start Center.

According to its website:

Crayon Collection focuses on using the collection and reallocation of crayons to create a social shift from a culture of international wastefulness to a mindful culture within communities that is supportive of teachers and students, art education and the environment.

Got old crayons?

The Crayon Collection's website lists all the ways you can get them into the hands of students in need.

They also have a locator tool to help you find Title I schools nearby that may need your crayons.

According to Crayon Collection:

It's more than just a crayon. At Crayon Collection, we see the crayon as an opening to conversations and actions surrounding social behavior and change, art education, environmental awareness, community symbiosis, as well as a solution to budget cuts in education and the arts, personal spending by teachers, and a cultural mindset of wastefulness. One simple crayon. One big shift.

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