Teachers tap into crowdsourcing

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In a perfect world, teachers would have all the money they need for classroom supplies and projects. But the reality is, most school district budgets are tight and teachers routinely dip into their own pockets to pay for basic supplies.

Montana teachers spend an average of $373 of their own money per school year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Social media has made it possible, however, to get more people involved in helping with classroom needs through crowdsourcing. Teachers are now tapping online funding for supplies such as pencils, dry-erase markers, cleaning products and snacks, and bigger-ticket items such as musical instruments and Chromebooks.

We’re fortunate to have such resourceful teachers right here in the Flathead Valley, who take the extra time to write proposals and jump through the hoops for crowdsourced funding. And if you want to give to a good cause, helping teachers do their jobs is a worthy investment.

A new local nonprofit has emerged with the goal of opening a homeless shelter serving individuals in all states of sobriety.

As a low-barrier facility, the Flathead Warming Center wouldn’t require people to meet certain stipulations for entry such as submitting to drug or breathalyzer tests and presenting valid identification. And while they’re at the shelter, staff would help connect these folks with local services to find longer-term housing and heath-care options.

“We don’t want somebody to freeze to death because they have alcohol in their system,” co-chair Luke Heffernan said. “If they’re following the rules, they’re allowed to stay.”

One study estimates more than 230 homeless people are living in the valley, which far exceeds the number of beds available at the two established shelters. Often these folks will seek shelter at the emergency room or a police station lobby as a last resort. The Flathead Warming Center could certainly help fill a need in the community and relieve stress on existing shelters.

The center hopes to open a facility in November, but the nonprofit has a long way to go in reaching its fundraising goals. To learn more about the nonprofit’s mission, visit www.flatheadwarmingcenter.org or call 471-1840.

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