Most public schoolteachers have one — a stash of pencils, pens, old calculators, notebook paper and basic supplies to hand out to students who come to class without.

Maybe that’s why teachers, both current and retired, have been such faithful donors to The Seattle Times editorial board’s annual school-supply drive over the past two decades. They know how important it is for students to come prepared, rather than make do with whatever the teacher has at hand.

When community members pitch in to help equip students with school essentials, it eases the burden for teachers and helps to make sure every student has the tools they need to learn.

A South Seattle woman donated $1,000 dollars to last year’s drive in memory of her mother, who spent 45 years as a classroom teacher. “Happy bd mama,” she wrote in the check’s memo field. Others have made their donations with specific subsets of students in mind, such as students who are learning English or experiencing homelessness. The notes that accompany donations are effusive in thanks for the opportunity.

Every donation helps. Public K-12 teachers in the U.S. spend, on average, nearly $500 of their own money to buy school supplies for their classrooms each year, according to the National Education Association. Teachers who work in schools with more students in poverty tend to spend more.

Every penny donated to the drive goes to community partners YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish, Hopelink and Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. Readers’ cash donations allow them to buy supplies in bulk and tailor backpacks to student need. The drive is part of The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy, a registered 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization.

The easiest way to donate is online. Checks may also be sent to: The Seattle Times School-Supply Drive, P.O. Box C-11025, Seattle, WA 98111; email questions to