You see it every year: your child’s already lengthy school supply list includes items for the whole classroom. Those are usually included to help offset how much of his or her own money a teacher spends—and it might be more than you think.

“Sometimes it does get frustrating, it looks like a long list, but I think sometimes parents forget how much teachers are investing themselves into their classroom,” said Laura Gurley, teacher and owner of The Teacher’s Lounge classroom supply store. She works in a private school in St. Louis County that fully funds their classrooms, but she knows that’s not the case with most teachers she meets.

“There has always been a gap in what schools are able to give teachers and what teachers need for their classrooms.”

According to the Scholastic Teacher and Principal School Report, 65 percent of Missouri teachers buy books for their classroom libraries. Around the country, 70 percent buy basic supplies like notebooks, binders, and pencils. Teachers spend, on average, $536 dollars per year on classroom supplies each school year. That’s tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a career

“ I think schools are doing as much as they possibly can to support their teachers in their classrooms but just over the years—we’ve been in business now for 10 years—and over the years school funding has been cut from the budget.”

Sometimes, they still can’t make up the difference. Just log on to DonorsChoose.org to find hundreds of innovative and essential projects that teachers are trying to fund.

“I think it’s the goal of every teacher to make sure that everyone in their classroom is successful.”

So she encourages helping in any way you can: donating your time or extra materials---and buying everything on the school supply list.