Teachers are getting a helping hand and the rare chance to save money thanks to consumer shopping website, www.oo.com, which began operating in November 2011 and has since given $1.2 million to teachers and students in more than 1,600 classrooms nationwide, according to Samantha Boltax, website spokeswoman.
Ana Martinez has taken advantage of the site. The second grade teacher at Estrella Elementary School in East LA has had three projects funded, getting a Macbook Pro laptop, four iPads and educational tablets called Boogie Boards through the website. She says the cost of these items totaled $5,000.
"I wouldn’t have been able to afford any of these on my own," Martinez said.
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Martinez is like many teachers who serve as both educator and supporter, even financially. Much of the money for the notebooks and pencils her students use come out of her pocket.
"On average I spend a month about $200," Martinez said.
A report by the National School Supply and Equipment Association found public school teachers, like Martinez, spent more than $3.1 billion on educational products during the 2009-10 school year.
The site works by allowing shoppers to choose a cause they’d like to support and 1 percent of their purchase will go toward that charity, Boltax said.
"You can shop on one of our over 30,000 merchants. You can shop Walmart, Best Buy, Bloomingdales, all through www.oo.com," Boltax said.
There is no additional cost to sign up or shop on www.oo.com which also provides additonal discounts in items from clothing to housewares.
"We are actually able to leverage exclusive discounts with those merchants. So you are paying the same if not less on those items," Boltax said.
On average, five projects are funded each day with the most popular ones completed first.
"You can search teachers in Los Angeles and support a classroom in Los Angeles or you can choose to support a student globally who would like to complete or start their education," Boltax said.
Martinez says she’s taken to Twitter and Facebook to bed friends and family to donate to her classroom.
"It takes a lot of time and effort,” said the 33-year-old teacher who admits others teachers are envious of her new items.
"These are my kids. I will do anything, so long as it’s legal, for them to give them the advantage that they need.”
Next on her wish list are journals for her kids to keep their math and writing work.