The shelves are packed, sorted and organized, ready for the next wave of shoppers, also known as teachers. Markers, pencils, ruled paper, notebooks, paint brushes, pocket folders, boxes of tissues, bacterial wipes, books and more await them. The Teachers’ Closet located within Peace Lutheran Church on 9th Avenue in Oshkosh opened its doors in 2011 to help teachers in Winnebago County teaching pre-K through 12th grade, obtain supplies for their classrooms and for their students.
The Closet is open two times per week, from 3:30pm to 5:30pm on Wednesday and Thursday, during the school year. It is not unusual to see as many as 15 to 20 teachers or paraprofessionals coming to scour the shelves for needed supplies. The organization, in its 11th year of serving the area’s teaching community, is run entirely by volunteers and through donations from individuals, businesses and service groups.
This past year, the organization established the Teachers’ Closet Fund at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation in order to ensure it continues to receive funding, and carries on in perpetuity. As budgets have continued to tighten in schools, this is one way to alleviate some of the burden for teachers, who otherwise pay for classroom supplies themselves.
According to the director, Kay Kuenzl-Stenerson, The Closet holds designated donation days, about four – five times per year and she spends about $1000.00 month on supplies in order to stock the shelves. She anticipates the need will continue to increase; another reason to establish the fund at the Community Foundation. For her, unlike teachers, summer is the busiest time for The Closet, as they prepare for the school year. But come September, the shelves will be stocked, and organized, awaiting the next wave of teachers who come to shop. With the help of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, Kuenzl-Stenerson feels confident that teachers will get the supplies they need now, and in the future.