Teachers grateful for strangers buying them school supplies in viral online campaign

Courtesy of WFAA

by Ariel Plasencia

DALLAS — Teachers are relying on strangers for school supplies through a viral trend on social media.

It’s called “Clear the Lists:” Teachers make a list of wanted school supplies on Amazon.com. Then anyone – even complete strangers – can go online and buy the items until they’re all gone.

Melissa Robinson teaches social studies at Lebanon Trail High School in Frisco.

She made a wish list and included a world coloring map, binder clips, a lesson planner and electronic buzzers for playing games.

“Next thing I know, my list is cleared,” Robinson said. “It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what just happened? Are you sure?’ I even called Amazon to make sure that the list was actually purchased.”

The most expensive item on Robinson’s list was $21.99. She says it’s not the price that matters, but the educational value.

“Teachers in general, they’re going to go out and spend money on things that are going to enhance the learning. The district provides a lot of stuff, but they don’t provide a buzzer that makes a ding dong sound or a honk and (those kinds of things) help us,” Robinson said. “It’s wonderful, just heartfelt (that) there is really people out there that care for us and understand some of our struggles.”

Robinson teaches at Lebanon Trail High School, which is part of Frisco ISD. The school district introduced a new stipend earlier this year to help offset outside costs spent on school supplies. Frisco ISD teachers will receive a $250 stipend in September.

The “Clear the Lists” campaign got even more attention when Burleson native and country music singer Casey Donahew created a GoFundMe page to help pay for items and clear teachers’ Amazon wish lists.

In a statement sent to WFAA, Donahew said:

“I am overwhelmed with all of the support and excitement over the #clearthelists campaign. We reached our initial Go Fund Me goal quicker than we ever could have imagined and we are asking people to please continue to support this campaign. My wife Melinda and I run our own small business and as you can imagine, the demand for our time right now is epic. While I wish I could make personal appearances and speak with all of the media personally about this, right now my time and energy is given to responding on my socials and driving awareness to support our teachers while also focusing on my music and touring. With that said, we are asking everyone to please continue to spread the news and let’s clear these lists!” 

Additional information for TEACHERS who are submitting lists:

  • Please update your list to most important needed items only. 
  • Keep the list to under $300.00. This will make the money go further, and help us help more teachers.
  • We won’t be sending anything other than educational items so please make sure you only send lists with those items!
  • Please send your lists to caseydband@yahoo.com
  • Make sure you complete your list with your shipping address!

“Clear the Lists” isn’t the only viral, online campaign happening across social media. Other teachers are using different websites, including DonorsChoose.org, to buy supplies.

Katie Kinnaman used to teach in California. She briefly left education for a job in the corporate world.

But a passion for her students called her back to the classroom.

She’s a second grade teacher at Schulz Elementary in Irving. And she’s building a classroom library through her DonorsChoose.org page. She’s asking people to buy books that she’s selected for her second graders. 

“I’ve actually had people donate from all over the country for this project. They’re never going to meet these kids,” Kinnaman said. “Nobody likes to be told what to read all the time, so this is going to give them greater choice and really build that love of reading.”

Kinnaman wasn’t surprised that recent online campaigns of teachers asking strangers to buy supplies have gone viral.

“We need a little more of this heart-warming type of experience,” Kinnaman said. “It absolutely blows my mind that people have not even a hesitation to give and support these kids.”