The St. Bernard Retired Teachers Association has kicked off their annual school supply drive to donate to a local elementary school in St. Bernard Parish. Each year, St. Bernard RTA members collect school supplies or donate funds to purchase supplies. The Unit has held their drive for the past five years. St. Bernard RTA President Paul Grethel was inspired by another retired teacher organization’s school supply drive and decided to implement the project with his Unit.
“I search online to see what other retired teacher groups are doing even in other states because we’re probably doing a lot of the same thing,” says Grethel. “I happened to see someone doing a school supply drive and thought, ‘we can do this.’”
Over the years, the school supply drive has grown. Grethel estimates the Unit has donated thousands of dollars’ worth of school supplies. Members have donated everything from notebooks, pens and backpacks. Some members even donated textbooks from when they were active teachers.
The school supply drive was put on hiatus last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the drive will be held remotely. Members will collect donations on their own to send to Grethel, who will distribute the supplies at local elementary schools in January. Members may also send a monetary donation for Grethel to purchase the supplies. St. Bernard RTA is certainly making up for lost time as they have already collected an estimated over $1,000 worth of school supplies. The school supply drive has been a great way for members to give back to the community, even from afar. The drive has also been a cathartic project for members.
“A lot of us have bonded over Hurricane Katrina and it’s been a great way to get back together,” says Grethel.