HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - A Facebook group is helping Hillsborough County teachers get their classrooms ready for an unusual year during the pandemic.
"Any student who walks into my room this year is going into a brand new experience," said Shields Middle School chorus teacher Chelsea Konrad.
Konrad said she's starting at a new school and building the program, so she has a lot of needs.
"Personally, my finances are going a lot towards bills that I have and whatever I have after trying to pay down that debt, I expect to go towards groceries of my classroom," she said.
Some teachers are buying more for their classrooms this year so students have to share less. They said they are also buying new items that they've never needed before because of Covid-19.
"You need things that a student can use just for themselves. You also need things that can transfer to distance learning if that ends up happening," said Konrad.
It's a situation that gave Brooke Elkins an idea.
The mother and former educator has started a local "Adopt A Teacher" group on Facebook.
"If we're asking our teachers to step back into the classroom, we should be willing to support them," Elkins said.
Most teachers are making a "wish list" on Amazon of things they need and posting it to the group.
Then, they get "adopted" by people who sign up to donate those materials.
Some of the pandemic-related items teachers are asking for include lanyards for masks, desk trays, electronics and microphones.
"If they can help in some small way, even if it doesn't seem like a lot, it's one less thing that a teacher has to purchase," said Elkins.
Konrad said she appreciates the generosity.
"I've actually had a really good experience getting quite a few thing on my list fulfilled and I'm humbled by it," said Konrad.
Elkins said the group is designed to help public school and charter school teachers. So far, about 7,000 people have joined the group. That includes teachers looking for supplies and community members who want to donate.
The Facebook group can be found here.