Free Classroom Supplies with Freecycle

Apr 27, 2014 by

Free Classroom Supplies with Freecycle
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Our Peeps challenge on Friday made it abundantly clear to me: I need a microwave for the classroom. Many of the chemistry labs I’ve tried to do have required warm water, which I just can’t get without a microwave.  The kids all wanted their liquids heated, but I had no way to run down to the lounge beforehand to help with that.


$$=frustrated husband

What’s a needy teacher to do?

Why, turn to Freecycle, of course! Freecycle is a national organization made up of local groups. Community members join the established e-mail list and send out ‘Offers’ when they have items around the house they no longer need. When you are signed up, you can see all these Offer e-mails and write them back if there is something being offered that you could use. They then choose one of the respondents to give the item to.

You can also send out ‘Wanted’ e-mails to the group. I just sent out a Wanted e-mail for the microwave. Members then ask themselves if they have that item that they could pass on to you.

I have used Freecycle for the 10 years I’ve been teaching, and I’ve gotten some AMAZING items from it. Books for my classroom library, a guitar, bookshelves, puppets, dress-up clothes and hats for reader’s theatre, paper trays and organizers, rugs, tables, art supplies, lamps, wingback chairs/stone bust/side table for my Hogwarts reading corner, etc. The community is hugely generous, and everyone that is on the list is actively looking to help others.

Tips and Tricks:
-I always send out an Offer e-mail right before I send out a Wanted e-mail. This shows I’m a team player and willing to give as much as I take.
-I always state the item wanted is for the classroom. If I’m responding to an Offer e-mail, I say I want the items for a classroom and how we will use them. If I’m sending out a Wanted e-mail, I tell a short story about why I want the item and add that I can provide them a letter for tax/deduction purposes if they donate the item.
-I e-mail pictures of the item being used in the classroom to the person who donated it. I hope that if they see the pictures, they might be more willing to donate to me in the future because they now feel invested in our room.

I’ve heard there are communities with amazing Freecycle groups (Marin, CA was awesome) and some groups that are much slower, or even difficult to get accepted to in the first place. But I encourage you to try it out. Meanwhile, I’ll be hoping that someone has an extra microwave sitting in their garage, collecting dust, just waiting to warm up water for our chemistry labs. And I stuck a mini-fridge into my Wanted e-mail as well-because a girl can dream, right?


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