ROSEVILLE, Minnesota — "It's just a great place to be. I love the teachers excitement when they see this stuff and they know that they can just have it."
Nancy Gammel is retired, but she still has a passion for helping students and her fellow teachers.
That's why volunteering at the "Kids In Need Foundation" resource center in Roseville is so rewarding.
"I get really emotional when I talk about the kids getting this stuff because of what it means to them," said Gammel.
Teachers come here to shop for free.
"In a nutshell, we're about the under-served teachers and students," explained the Foundation's CEO, Corey Gordon. He says education is the great equalizer, and in this equation, supplies equal success.
"We want to make sure the teachers have the supplies they need to be able to teach and focus on teaching, supporting their kids, and the students themselves have the supplies they need to feel confident and comfortable being in school," Gammel enthused.
Supplies come from all corporate donors across the country including Minnesota's 3M and Ecolab.
The donations lift a huge burden from teachers who often use their paychecks to pick up where funding and supplies from school districts fall short.
"We heard a story just a couple weeks ago of a teacher who literally takes out a loan at the start of every school year so they can purchase supplies for their classroom and for their kids. That's how much the teachers are in it for these children," Gammel recalled.
In the COVID-19 era, their need is growing.
"Teachers used to be able to have a community bucket, where you could have students sharing, whether it was pens, pencils, coloring crayons, paper, whatever have you, to now where every single student has to have their own individual set of supplies," Gammel explained.
According to the "Kids In Need Foundation," school supplies can give students confidence to stay in school and engage with teachers.
Quite simply, it levels the playing field for under-served communities.
"Yes, these are basic supplies, yes, it's just a basic backpack, but when you look at the overall impact on the lives of these kids, it's far more than just a backpack," said Gammel.
If you'd like to learn more about the Kids In Need Foundation, you can find the 2019 impact report here.