The Free Teacher Market is open three times a month for Polk County Public Schools educators!

Photograph of people at the Free Teacher Market

Help Erase the Need for Students in Polk

The Free Teacher Market provides much-needed school supplies into the hands of students and teachers! For some students and families, even the most basic school supplies are out of reach. The Free Teacher Market helps erase the need in local classrooms by inviting Polk’s public and charter school teachers to shop four times a year. Teachers pick up much-needed supplies to ensure their students have the tools they need for school.  As an added bonus, your support helps to lessen the burden on teachers’ budgets. Visiting teachers shop without spending a penny out of their own pocket. Want to help Erase the Need for students in Polk? Donate much needed new school supplies and gently used office items to the Polk Education Foundation’s Free Teacher Market.

The Free Teacher Market is a distribution program that accepts new and gently used donations from your home, office or business. Companies might consider donating excess inventory, surplus or marketing items. The Free Teacher Market then makes these donated items available free of charge to Polk’s public and charter school teachers. Due to the generosity of community donors, the Free Teacher Market is open two to three times a month throughout the school year. See the link below for a list of requested items that you may have around your house or office. YOUR donations help make a difference in the lives of students and teachers in Polk County!

“I am a new hire (and new to Florida).  I was shocked and impressed when I learned about the Free Teacher Market. I have never heard of anything like this and have always spent hundreds of dollars a year on essentials my students need and supplies for the classroom. I left all of my teaching supplies behind at my last school and was not looking forward to the cost of replacement. 
 
The Free Teacher Market has been a considerable help for me! I was not sure what to expect but I found several things I needed for my new classroom, like a pocket chart and chart paper. The smaller items like note cards, pencil sharpeners, and sticky notes have stocked my shelves. I really appreciate that I was able to get free backpacks and binders; I had students in need of both and it was great to have these provided. 
 
In addition to the material items received, my favorite part about the free teacher market was the culture of appreciation for teachers. It means a lot to me that the community values teachers and seeks to assist in making their lives a little easier! 
 
It difficult to express my level of gratitude in words but please know that this Free Teacher Market has been a wonderful help to me and my students. I am so happy that my husband’s job brought us to Polk County and that I am now able to work in such a supportive area. Thank you again!“

~ Spessard Holland Elementary Teacher

Thank You Collage Page 01

“I would like to thank you and let you know how much I appreciated the Free Teacher Market. I had the pleasure of participating in last week!  I work at Caldwell Elementary School.  It’s a Title one school that is facing many challenges this year.  Every day I work with students that are in need of many things.  With this shopping trip, I was able to allow some of them to have their own supplies such as notebook paper, pencils, erasers, crayons, and scissors.   
 
I have one 5th grade student that I was able to bring a smile to her face.  She recently transferred to C.E.S.. Her zippered binder (required for our 5th graders) was taken by an unknown person.  When I was shopping, I noticed a green zippered binder on the shelf. I immediately thought of this young lady and put it in my shopping bag!  Along with some of the other supplies, I was able to put together a ready-to-go binder for her.  The next morning I 
presented the supplies and binder to her.  She was so thankful!  She literally has not stopped smiling.  She is proud of her gifts and is putting forth her best effort to keep her work caught up and do her best! 
 
Your generosity makes a difference in our student’s lives. Thank you again!“   

~ Caldwell Elementary School Teacher 

Click here to view a printable business surplus flyer

Financial Sponsors:

 Bank of America, Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, Florida Blue Foundation, GFWC Four Corner’s Woman’s Club, George Jenkins Foundation, Grand Canyon University, Perkins Family Restaurant, Publix Super Markets Charities, School District Education Foundation Matching Grant Program, Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

 

As part of a special initiative, funding for eLearner supply packets provided by United Community Relief Fund, a collaborative fund of United Way of Central Florida and GiveWell Community Foundation.

School District Education Foundation Matching Grant Program Logo
Suncoast Credit Union Logo
Tampa Bay Lightning Logo
Consortium of Florida Education Foundation Logo
Bank of America Logo
Florida Blue Foundation Logo
Grand Canyon University Logo
United Community Relief Fund Logo

In-Kind Donations: Assurance Insurance, Hughes Printing, PCPS District Office, Retired Teachers, State Farm Agent – Michell Githens, and many more!

 

Group of 3 holding red bags filled with supplies

“I would like to take this time to say ‘Thanks’!  Allowing me to shop at the Free Teacher’s Market was amazing.  My students come to school and they are ready to learn. The individuals who do not have the materials they needed, I gladly provided. This has allowed me to ensure that everyone in my classes is better prepared and can do all assignments. Thanks from all of us.” ~ Bartow Middle School Teacher

Donation Idea Lists

Do you have new or gently used supplies/materials that you don’t need anymore? Go Green! These supplies/materials are valuable resources for Polk County teachers and can be used as teaching tools in our schools.

FAQs

What is the Free Teacher Market?

The Free Teacher Market is a place where Polk County public school teachers can visit to obtain free supplies for their classrooms and students. This project is administered by the Polk Education Foundation and made possible by donations of supplies and funds from individuals, business and civic organizations in our community. The store is located on the western most side of the Bartow Middle School campus, in two portable buildings. The physical address is 550 E Clower St, Bartow, FL 33830.

Questions Relating to Donations

What can be donated?

The Free Teacher Market accepts a variety of items that can be used as teaching tools. Since we have teachers who need supplies for children of all ages, there are many resources needed. We however cannot take clothing or furniture. Please refer to the Donation Idea List on this website that includes commonly donated items.

Where and when can I drop off items?

Donations are accepted year round. To schedule a drop off/pick up at The Polk Education Foundation office or at the store’s warehouse on the Bartow Middle School’s campus, please call our office at 863-534-0519 x609. If you know of a business who would like to serve as a collection site, please contact us.

What are your office hours?

The Polk Education Foundation’s office is open from 8 am to 4 pm. Please however call to ensure that someone is available to accept your donation on the day you plan to arrive.

Can the PEF pick up donations?

Since we have no additional staff for the Free Teacher Market, picking up donations can be challenging. We encourage items to be dropped off at our location. If this isn’t possible, we will try to work with you to arrange a pickup when we have a staff member already scheduled to be out in the community.

Do you need supplies for children younger than kindergarten?

Yes. We accept donations for children younger than kindergarten as well since we have daycares and Pre-K classes that are running in schools around the district.

What if I want to donate money and not actual supplies?

Thank you! And you have a couple of options to do so:

  • Visit www.polkeducationfoundation.org and click on the “How can you help” button. This will take you to a secure page to make your electronic donation.
    Please note in the text box at the bottom of the page that donated funds are for the Free Teacher Market. Please note: we have to pay a 4% fee to the credit card processor, so that will be deducted, or, you may choose to cover that fee.
  • You may send checks to the PEF office, made payable to the “Polk Education Foundation” with a notation it is for the “Free Teacher Market”.

All monetary donations are tax deductible and will be recognized with a letter noting our tax determination. A letter with tax determination will also be provided upon request for used items, however we cannot value them, only list the donated items. You would need to take the letter to your tax preparer for their use.

Questions Relating to Teachers and Volunteers

Where is the Free Teacher Market located?

The store is located on the western most side of the Bartow Middle School campus, in two portable buildings. The physical address is 550 E Clower St, Bartow, FL 33830.

What are the days and hours the Free Teacher Market is open?

The Free Teacher Market is typically open late afternoon/early evening 3 times a month. A schedule of market openings will be shared electronically with teachers on a monthly basis. Teachers will have the opportunity to sign up for a timeslot that fits their schedule until all the slots are filled.

Who can visit the Free Teacher Market and obtain supplies?

Public school teachers in Polk County may obtain supplies from the Free Teacher Market. Teachers will be required to show School Board ID badge to obtain admittance into the store. ***We occasionally hold special openings or include support staff like paraprofessionals who also serve student with supply needs.
Please note: Admittance is not transferable; if a teacher is selected to attend they cannot “give” their visit to someone else. Please call the PEF office at 863-534-0519 x609 so we may let the next person on the list know they can attend instead. Children and adult guests are not allowed to accompany the selected teacher into the Market, space does not allow for additional visitors.

What is the availability of items in the store?

There are limits to the amount of most consumables and high dollar items that a teacher can take each visit. These limits are listed in the store and include that only (1) provided shopping bag be filled with items to take during each visit. These bags will be provided at the store. Availability of certain items change each month due to inventory restraints.

Thank you GiveWell Community Foundation!

 

This logo was made possible by a capacity building grant sponsored by the GiveWell Community Foundation.