CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's back-to-school time and time for parents to buy school supplies.

But what happens when parents don't have the money? Year after year, teachers dig into their own pockets to make sure their students have what they need.

According to an OfficeMax study released in June, 97 percent of teachers nationwide will buy some school supplies this year, and 28 percent say they've cut their family budget in order to fund their classrooms.

The average teacher spends $623 a year on school supplies.

In Charlotte, an organization called Classroom Central is helping. The organization provides teachers much-needed free supplies.

About 95 percent of my students come without school supplies, said Trina Potter, who teaches at Ashley Park Elementary.

She's one of about 7,000 local teachers getting help from Classroom Central.

These teachers want to help and when kids show up empty-handed, no teacher is going to allow them to just sit there without the materials they need, said Sarah Porter with Classroom Central.

The Charlotte warehouse is stocked with supplies -- everything from pencils and pens to books and book bags.

All of the supplies are donated. It's free for teachers to take, which saves them money and helps students in the classroom.

When we give these kids the pens, the pencils, the markers, the crayons, the notebooks -- we're helping them learn so they can focus on what the teacher is telling them to do, Porter said.

Classroom Central needs help to continue providing free supplies to teachers.

Buy one extra. When you're picking up supplies for your children, just pick up an extra, Porter said.

Donations can be dropped off at the Classroom Central warehouse at 2116 Wilkinson Blvd., just west of uptown Charlotte.

You can also donate online at

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