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Website offers resources to strapped boro schools

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Even before the Sept. 11 attacks Queens schools were struggling to make up for a lack of funds, with some teachers and principals reporting that the money for basic supplies like paper was coming out of their own pockets.

Walloped by a late state budget that slashed funding for city schools and reductions in city monies, school administrators were wondering how to handle their monetary needs prior to the budget deficit caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But this holiday season Queens schools have another resource to tap when looking for help.

The nonprofit group PENCIL, or Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning, has begun an on-line project it calls The Pencil Box, which matches schools in need of supplies with donors.

A PENCIL spokeswoman said last week 42 Queens schools in all corners of the borough have already taken advantage of the project even though its web site — thepencilbox.org — has only been up a few weeks.

Terri McCullough, of PENCIL, said the project has been operating for a couple of years under the name The PENCIL Resource Bank, but recently the group moved to simplify the process.

“Over the past year we’ve really refined it,” she said last week. “Schools list the top three materials they need and donors can look on the web site to see” which ones they want to meet, she said.

“Everybody wins,” she said.

According to a list provided by PENCIL, schools throughout Queens are taking advantage of thepencilbox.org to ask for a variety of items, including: library books, furniture, VCRs, computers, desks, chairs, art supplies air conditioners, sports equipment, microscopes, paper and pencils.

Each school in the city system was contacted by PENCIL, McCullough said, and given a user name and password so they could access the site.

Queens schools taking part in the project include a number of high schools such as Francis Lewis, Forest Hills, Hillcrest, John Bowne, and Long Island City, to name a few. A wide range of elementary and middle schools have also joined in.

The PENCIL Box is funded by the Toys ‘R’ Us Children’s Fund, according to a news release.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:28 pm, October 10, 2011
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