Schoolhouse Supplies Snapshot Series; Barb Sterling

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 2.36.07 PMAlthough I’m originally from Ohio, I moved out to Portland in 2007. “Why?” you might ask? Well the answer is simple really; to pursue my dream of becoming the world’s greatest beef jerky chef. I picked up the craft while living in Colorado Springs, and haven’t looked back. . . Actually, I moved to Portland to be closer to my grandchildren. But still, I’ve been told I make a mean stick jerky.
Other than combining spices with dry, delectable meat of the beef variety, I’m very fond of taking walks with my husband, ceramics, gardening, and volunteering. It’s this passion for helping serve others that inevitably led me to Schoolhouse Supplies.
After I first moved here, I went to a volunteer expo to discover ways I could help out and better my new-found community. While there, I kept hearing about the great and innovative things Schoolhouse Supplies has done. “Distributing more than $19 million worth of school supplies into local classrooms.” “Committed to serving all of Portland’s 130 schools.” And then of course this fabled, “Free Store for Teachers” that people just couldn’t stop talking about. As a retired high school math teacher, and thus fully understanding of the unfortunate condition of classrooms everywhere in the U.S., I was sold.
Even though our Free Store for Teachers is massive and offers all sorts of supplies from 18th century novels to funky scissor holsters (oh yeah, those exist and we have ‘em), I really admire the basics that we offer: i.e. pens, pencils, paper, crayons, notebooks, and erasers. It’s the simplicity of these materials that I think really exemplifies and gets at what we’re doing here; serving the students and helping curb expenses that many teachers and families incur.
I think at the end of the day, it’s that feeling of accomplishment and impact that I most enjoy when volunteering at Schoolhouse Supplies. Don’t get me wrong, the staff and other volunteers are great. But seeing even the most basic donations make it from the door, tallied, sorted, and then onto the shelves ready to be used in the classroom? There’s just something incredibly special about that, and is why I am so happy to be a part of it.

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