Class Act

Treasures 4 Teachers

Nonprofit discovers benefits of relationship with NB|AZ

Wherever you live in the Phoenix area, your children may directly benefit from the nonprofit Treasures 4 Teachers. Established by Barbara Blalock in 2004 in response to a shocking shortage of classroom supplies, the organization partners with local businesses to collect unwanted binders, pencils, file trays and other supplies. These are then made available to teachers from many settings, including public, charter and private schools, home-school arrangements and Scouts.

Blalock was inspired to help teachers after witnessing firsthand how much supplies are needed in the classroom. “I was observing a second-grade class,” she said, “when a little girl took off her shoe and gave it to the teacher in exchange for a pencil. The teacher didn’t have enough pencils to give out without guaranteeing she would get them back. She knew she’d get the pencil back if the student used her shoe as collateral.”

Blalock then met with representatives of major corporations to investigate how she could round up unneeded office supplies. Today, in a 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Tempe, any teacher who has paid a $35 annual fee can, for another $5, fill a grocery bag with supplies. Last year, more than 50 companies donated to the organization, which served 3,100 teachers, reached 120,000 students and diverted 2.1 million cubic feet of reusable material from landfills. Blalock would welcome participation from more local hospitals, because science teachers can use unopened items from surgical kits, such as plastic tubing and sponges, that hospitals must discard once the kits are no longer sterile.

As much as teachers appreciate Treasures 4 Teachers, that’s how much Blalock appreciates the organization’s relationship with National Bank of Arizona. “They have a commitment to and an understanding of the nonprofit community and our funding sources,” said Blalock, who added that her banker, Pam Keefe, “has a sincere interest in what we’re doing and the difference we’re making in the community.”