Links to Learning funds classroom materials for teachers

Friday, August 23, 2013 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 4:51 p.m. CDT, Sunday, August 25, 2013

COLUMBIA — More than $1,900 worth of books found its way into Ann Denney's classroom because of grants from Links to Learning.

Denney, who spent 19 years teaching at Derby Ridge Elementary School, received the maximum grant amount each of the three times she applied.

She used the money to purchase learning materials, including "big books for little kids" and "sets of books that went above and beyond school-district curriculum," she said. 

"Links to Learning is an amazing opportunity for teachers," Denney said. 

The program helps public-school teachers all over the country through the Assistance League, a national nonprofit organization that runs the consignment store Upscale Resale at 1729 W. Broadway.

An open house at the store Thursday invited teachers and staff to learn about Links to Learning and another program called Operation School Bell.

Links to Learning gives up to $700 for learning materials and field trips, said Phyllis Stoecklein, vice president of philanthropic programs for the Mid-Missouri Assistance League.

Approximately $2,300 was given in the first Links to Learning grant in 1992. Since then the program has grown, granting $84,000 locally this fall, Stoecklein said. 

"There are many more requests for funds than there are available," she said.

Operation School Bell provides appropriate clothes and hygiene kits to students who are referred by principals and counselors.

Upscale Resale is staffed by 280 volunteers. Denney has been volunteering at the shop since she retired from teaching two years ago.

Denney said she wonders why more teachers don’t apply for the program. 

"The books I’ve bought are good for years to come," she said. "The material has never been wasted.” 

Links to Learning can grant money only to those teachers who "rise to the top" of the submission pile, she said.

Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.

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