SWEET HOME — Two new teachers at Hawthorne Elementary School in Sweet Home are starting the year with fully-stocked classrooms, thanks to volunteers with the Linn County Sheriff's Office.

This is the third year the volunteers, all with the sheriff's Lebanon Substation, have singled out new teachers for donations of school supplies. This year's beneficiaries were kindergarten teacher Emma Brock and fifth-grade teacher Hannah Galka, each of whom received more than a dozen colorful tote bags each full of items.

Sue Weinbrecht, who coordinates the volunteer effort, said it all started with a visit with a Lebanon teacher who was lamenting how much it costs to set up a classroom. School districts help, the teacher said, but it's never enough to cover everything that's needed.

Research finds the same situation nationwide. The Education Market Association published information in 2016 noting on average, most teachers spent nearly $500 on school supplies the previous year and one in 10 spent double that or more.

"We thought, maybe we can do something about that," Weinbrecht said.

LCSO Lebanon Substation volunteers Shirley Van Epps, Carl Weinbrecht, Dee Gaylord, Jan Jones, Judy LeSuer, Mac McNulty, Dave Poto and Jim Jones prowled school supply sales and gathered more than $1,300 in supplies for the teachers this year.

They then packed up three sizes of stainless steel rulers, two sizes of good quality scissors, notebooks with dividers and filler paper, Post-its, spiral bound notebooks in many sizes, file folders, USB drives, bulletin board supplies, colored copy paper, calculators, and several sizes of letter envelopes.

The supplies were for the teachers, but student needs weren't left out, Weinbrecht said: filler paper, spiral-bound notebooks, composition books, glue and glue sticks, pens and pencils, crayons and hand sanitizer also filled the bags.

Volunteers came to Hawthorne on Aug. 28 to present the supplies.

"The teachers were so excited the day we showed up," Weinbrecht said. "It was an inspiration to the volunteers."

"We hope that it makes a difference."

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