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A store where Chesapeake teachers can shop for supplies for free

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Your taxes pay for public schools, but teachers shell out hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets every year to get supplies for their classrooms and students.

"Kids start to lose notebooks, or lose glue or lose colored pencils, you go quite a bit," said Anthony Otter, a middle school civics and history teacher.

The Education Market Association reports on average, teachers spend $500 of their own money each year on supplies. So the Chesapeake Public Schools Educational Foundation took action and collected items and money to open a store where Chesapeake teachers can shop for free and bring their lessons to life.

"I teach polynomials with a sticker activity. So instead of x2 times x3 we do smiley faces squared times smiley faces cubed for them to understand the concept," said Sherri-Lyn Whitfield, who has been teaching for almost three decades.

The store at Deep Creek Middle School is open Tuesday and Thursday and is staffed by volunteers from the foundation. Teachers can come in once a month and pick up to 10 items for free. There are countless items available from basics including pencils and notebooks to bigger items such as backpacks.

"It's one less expense I have to take out of my check to give to the other students, which again, as a teacher, you never mind. But it's $20 I can put it toward my family going out to eat," said Otter.

And if teachers have the supplies they need, it helps them succeed.

"My job is to teach the most wealthy to the poorest and I'm here for everybody and give everybody equal opportunity, equal education," said Otter.

The store has been open for 12 days and so far more than 300 teachers have popped in.