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Prisoners Contribute to Schoolchildren’s Supplies Through ’A Gift for Teaching’ Program


Longwood, FL (WebWire) Feb. 2, 2006 – “Programs that let people contribute to the community while raising their own self esteem excite us,” says William J. Chatlos, President of The Chatlos Foundation, describing one reason the foundation continues to support A Gift for Teaching. ”Only two years after this new and original organization was launched, we funded an intriguing proposal to buy school supplies for their Free Store, where classroom teachers can ‘shop’ for needed school supplies without spending their own money. Since then, my sister, Michele Chatlos Roach, has become our internal champion of A Gift for Teaching, and she couldn’t wait to share their latest program, ‘Crafts with Conviction,’ with the rest of us.”

Created in 1998 by Gary Landwirth to bridge the gap between needy students and surplus office supplies from local businesses, A Gift For Teaching has provided more than $17 million worth of school supplies to public school students and teachers in the Central Florida area. This nonprofit organization is funded solely through the community, including corporations, foundations, individuals, and fund-raisers.

“More than 110,000 economically disadvantaged Central Florida schoolchildren currently attend school each day without the basic school supplies necessary for academic success,” says President Landwirth. With school budgets giving teachers about a nickel a day per student to spend on classroom supplies, “many reach into their own pockets to make sure their students have what they need.” Landwirth’s concept is “beautifully simple: surplus items from individual and businesses are gathered by A Gift for Teaching and offered by our Free Store at no cost to area schoolteachers to use in their classrooms.”

Despite what Landwirth calls “tremendous success” in distributing valuable school resources, “the need for education tools continues to grow, and the Free Store is unable to meet the demand due to limited donations of much-needed items.” In November 2003, the organization launched “Crafts with Conviction Florida,” a creative partnership with the Florida Department of Corrections designed to fill this gap.

Modeled after an award-winning program begun in Ohio, “Crafts with Conviction” encourages prison inmates to transform raw materials such as paper and felt into educational tools like flashcards, book bags, puppets, and journals. Working at first with women from Lowell Correctional Institutional, A Gift for Teaching recently expanded the successful partnership to men from Marion Correctional Institute. The “win-win” program lets businesses recycle and get tax benefits, provides prisoners constructive work that elevates their self esteem and sense of service, and significantly increases the Free Store’s capacity to offer teachers the products they need the most.

“A Gift for Teaching helps the community give twice,” says Chatlos Roach, “because local businesses can recycle their excess supplies and merchandise, and teachers can put these greatly needed products to use in their classrooms in imaginative ways, without further draining their own pocketbooks. Everyone wins – businesses, teachers, and students.”

When you choose to support A Gift for Teaching, you’re not alone. An impressive list of donors includes AAA, Centex Construction, and Darden Restaurants. President Gary Landwirth takes such support seriously, explaining that A Gift for Teaching is “a good steward of the community’s generosity, ensuring that 96 percent of all donations received are used for program-related expenses.” Nevertheless, the rapidly growing population of students means that the demand for educational tools and supplies continues to outpace the organization’s resources.

Do you have a spare pack of pencils or paper or art supplies? Can you spare a little time or a few dollars? You can help A Gift for Teaching help schoolchildren and teachers by donating your time, dollars, or products. Volunteers operate the Free Store, assisting teachers and stocking merchandise. Each dollar donated allows teachers to take $10 worth of supplies back to the classroom. Individuals can drop off their supplies, or they can host a supply drive in their office, neighborhood, or school with an easy-to-use kit of posters and labels. Your support contributes to the success of our future – school children and their teachers.
Learn more about A Gift for Teaching online at or by calling them at (407) 345-0515.

About The Chatlos Foundation:
The Chatlos Foundation funds nonprofit organizations in the USA. Support is provided to organizations currently recognized as tax exempt by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States. The Foundation’s areas of interest are: Bible Colleges/Seminaries, Religious Causes, Medical Concerns, Liberal Arts, and Social Concerns. The Chatlos Foundation, Inc. is a private, philanthropic foundation and does not solicit or accept donations from the general public.


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