School supplies received through Adopt a Hillsborough Teacher.

By Anika Shah

Adopt a Hillsborough Teacher is a Facebook group that helps teachers fulfill their school supply wish lists for the year. It all started last year when former teachers Brooke Elkins and Lorra Gillman noticed the success of the Adopt a Senior Facebook page, which allowed residents to connect with and buy care packages for high school seniors who didn’t have a graduation.

Elkins got to thinking that the same could be done for teachers, “who, especially during COVID, were needing support in the classroom more than ever,” she said.

What started as a whim stayed up for the entire school year and blossomed into a thriving community of over 13,000 members. It touched nearly every school in Hillsborough, which is quite a feat considering it is the 27th biggest county in the United States. The growing popularity of the page influenced Pasco and Pinellas Counties to start one.

Originally a hub of posts by teachers, Elkins has streamlined the page to be organized alphabetically into threads of schools. Educators post their Amazon Wish List of supplies under their school thread and residents buy them. The Amazon pages update in real time so community members will know what has already been bought and what is still needed.

Starting since July 17, threads are live, with all of the elementary, middle, high and charter schools being posted in the days following. They will stay online for the duration of the school year.

With over 250 schools in the district, the 100 dollars in flex spending that teachers receive is often not enough. Instead, “teachers are pouring hundreds and hundreds of dollars of personal money into their classrooms every year.”

For Elkins, “The more help we are giving our teachers, the better it is for them, and ultimately it’s better for the kids,” she said. While some teachers’ whole lists have been cleared, others, especially Title 1 schools, struggle with getting enough supplies. On how people can help, Elkins said, “Join, adopt and share the page.”

For more information and to support, visit ‘Adopt a Hillsborough Teacher’ on Facebook.

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