You may not be a fan of spending money each year on school supplies for your kid. But imagine doing it for 19 students.

Yasmin Gonzalez, a first-grade teacher in Lakewood, is grateful for the funds allotted to her each year by the district in order to acquire supplies for the classroom and bulletin board resources.

But she's already had to use her own money this summer to buy crayons and colored pencils ahead of the Sept. 9 start date. And now she has an active Amazon Wish List so that friends and family can help her afford prizes that will reward her students for good behavior.

"They love Pop Its, they like fidget spinners, and they like working toward something," Gonzalez told New Jersey 101.5. "If you have a vision, sometimes you've got to go into your own pocket to bring that to life."

The wish list also includes dry erase markers and a whiteboard cleaner.

Gonzalez isn't the only teacher who's made her needs public through online platforms — it's a regular occurrence each year leading up to Labor Day weekend in New Jersey.

Several New Jersey-based listings are active on the site Donors Choose, created by teachers looking for everything from multiple copies of the same book, to certain seating options for students.

"It's often said that teachers are the only professionals who steal office supplies from home to take them to work," said Steve Baker, director of communications for the New Jersey Education Association. "Certainly we advocate for districts to provide more of those supplies."

According to the union, public school educators, on average, spend hundreds of their own dollars on a yearly basis for supplies.

In many districts, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association, teachers request specific items from school administrators, with a set amount they can "spend," and then the supplies are provided to the teacher.

It's common, the association said, for teachers to spend some of their own money for supplies. Teachers can take advantage of the Educator Expense Deduction available on federal income tax returns, the association said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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