Save money on school supplies and save the planet at Resource Depot

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The treasures inside Resource Depot are ever-changing, organized into packed shelves that wrap around a large warehouse in West Palm Beach. Everything sold at Resource Depot has been donated by the community, available for purchase at a fraction of its original price. It’s open to any shopper in the community who wants to save money and keep trash out of the landfill.

The Department of Education found that about 95% of teachers buy supplies for their students, spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. Teachers especially enjoy shopping at Resource Depot, although the place is open to everyone.

We followed Lisa Poskanzer, media specialist at North Grade K-8 through the two sections of Resource Depot. She starts by getting two different bins, one for each section.

The first section is the “Treasure Boutique”. In this area, items are sold individually at a fraction of the cost and tend to be newer items with a higher value. Poskanzer finds sets of stamps, books, special papers and more, exclaiming excitedly at the items.

“I get inspired by everything I see,” she said.

Poskanzer stops at Resource Depot before heading to the regular office and school supply aisles at brick-and-mortar stores. Sometimes the item itself will dictate the possibilities.

“We totally need yarn in my classroom, it’s a great idea for bulletin boards,” she says, picking up several skeins of fibers in a variety of blue tones.

Next, she stopped in the materials market area. In this section, visitors purchase materials based on volume. Everything that fits in a yellow bin has a fixed, nominal price.

“I didn’t know I needed them until I saw them,” she said, holding eyedroppers with measurements on the side. She plans to use them in the school garden as signal markers or rain-measuring devices.

There are stacks of eyeglass lenses in one tray, colored bottle caps in another. Poskanzer left with a large book of material samples, the kind typically used by an interior designer. If you see an art purpose for one of the items, it’s best to get it before another buyer notices.

“He’s here today, he could be gone tomorrow,” she explained.

Executive Director Jennifer O’Brien says they gratefully accepted a wave of donations. Many of them came from cupboards cleaned out during the pandemic and from businesses that were forced to close.

“We pay it forward, we pass it on,” O’Brien said.

A big part of the effort is keeping items out of the landfill. Resource Depot launched its “Enough is ENF” campaign to encourage people to take just what they need in all parts of their lives. The organization has discovered that donated objects can take on new life in the hands of creative thinkers.

“You may have this random item, I may not even know what it is, but right behind me an artist comes and as I need it, it’s the most amazing thing,” said said O’Brien.

The hope is that each item sold will help someone with hands-on learning that has been cut due to the pandemic.

“Maybe they’ll end up in a classroom and help hundreds of kids and not just one,” Poskanzer said.

Resource Depot is open to all shoppers and sells multi-tour passes, making it a great back-to-school gift.


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