Calling all Queens teachers, educators and school leaders: Get your hands on free school supplies from this Long Island City warehouse starting next week.
From Aug. 20 to the end of September, Materials for the Arts will be hosting the fourth annual “Back to School” kickoff, where public schools and nonprofits are invited to get free supplies for their students. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, those interested can make appointments to come to the 35,000 square foot warehouse (33-00 Northern Blvd.) and “shop” the materials for up to two hours.
Those interested in participating in the shopping sprees must be registered MFTA members, but organizations that are not can become members if they fit all the eligibility requirements. Existing members can log in and make an appointment through the MFTA website. Kaiser encourages teachers to contact their principals to find out if their schools are members and to make shopping appointments.
According to John Kaiser, the director of education for Materials for the Arts, supplies range from the ordinary — stacks of paper, fabric and desks — to the unique, including props from movie studios and Broadway shows. Kaiser said that once they received all the leftover costumes from “The Little Mermaid” on Broadway.
Kaiser highlighted two ways to donate the materials that the organization distributes. The first way is for individuals to come down to the warehouse on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the day and drop off supplies. MFTA gives donors tax receipts for their contributions.
The second way to donate is geared toward companies, where a fleet of semi trucks is sent to out to collect the donated material. Information on how to donate is available on the MFTA website. There are also lists of the most wanted items and items that are not accepted as donations.
For the past 40 years, MFTA has been the city’s leading creative reuse program, supporting over 4,300 public schools and nonprofits with free supplies. According to the organization, which is run by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs with support from the NYC Department of Education, over 90 percent of NYCDOE schools, from elementary to high school, are MFTA members.
Kaiser said that the purpose of the MFTA giveaway program is to serve people who may not have as much arts programming in their schools. He added that students have different types of learning styles, so the hands-on experiences they receive due to the donated materials can help them improve their grades and improve their overall attitudes at school.
The director of education said that the one thing MFTA requires from those who participate is a thank-you note addressed to the supply donors. He recalls so many stories of how the materials were being put to good use in classrooms across the city.