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In Oklahoma, a 3rd-Grade Teacher Is Panhandling Along a Highway Entrance to Raise Money for Classroom Supplies

August 7, 2017

Talking Points

Oklahoma teacher goes panhandling to raise awareness — and cash for school supplies

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This article is one in a series at The 74 that profiles the heroes, victories, success stories, and random acts of kindness to be found at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring profiles at The74million.org/series/inspiring.

It wasn’t so much that Teresa Danks wanted to stand on the side of the road in her hometown of Claremore, Oklahoma, begging for money. It was that she felt it needed to be done in order to raise both awareness and cash for her third-grade students at Grimes Elementary School in Tulsa.

“It just felt so scary,” she told ABC News, “but it was a wonderful feeling to hear people being so supportive of teachers.”

Danks, a 12-year veteran teacher, says she spends roughly $2,000 per year out of her $35,000 salary on basic school supplies for her mostly low-income elementary students. While talking with her husband about her state’s budget woes, he jokingly suggested she make up a sign and panhandle.

She did it that very day, with a sign that read: “Teacher Needs School Supplies! Anything Helps.”

While Danks pulled in only about $50 on the street, a local news crew picked up her story and soon it was national news, even earning Danks an appearance on Good Morning America. With her own GoFundMe page, which topped $14,000 following the television appearance, a “Begging for Education” Facebook page, and donations from the show, Danks more than met her goal for her students.



But what she really did was start a discussion about the desperate need for school supplies. 

“What I hope they take away is that the education of our children is important to our future, so it needs to be important to everyone,” Danks says. “I would say go to your local schools and find out what they need. It could be as simple as getting them a beanbag chair or a border for their bulletin boards, but we need the community to help us step up and educate our children, because they are our future leaders.”