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OK teacher panhandeling

An elementary school teacher is literally begging for help to pay for school supplies

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Teresa Danks teaches third grade in Tulsa, Oklahoma and for years she’s paid for classroom supplies for her students out of her own pocket.

She’s had to spend hours online looking for the best deals, searching for secondhand stores, and even scoured yard sales looking for discarded notebooks or staplers.

This year, she decided it was time to do something drastic to call attention to the struggle teachers face at the end of every summer.

She took the streets in mid-July and started panhandling. She made a sign that said:

“Teacher Needs School Supplies! Anything Helps. Thank You.”

Danks said budget cuts mean she has been spending between $2,000-$3,000 a year on supplies for her classroom. Danks said the profession has never been financially rewarding, but "it's just getting harder and harder."

“It all adds up week after week and month after month,” Danks said. “So, it’s a huge need.”

She said that she hopes other teachers will join her in the effort to bring awareness to the fact that legislators are crippling the education system with relentless cutbacks.

She also urged people nationwide to donate to their local schools, saying that many teachers like herself are in similar situations.

"I'm not alone," she said. "I mean, we are all doing it." She said her unusual fundraiser isn't about her. It's to help her class and shine a light on the plight facing public schools.

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"I mean we are begging, and you know, we don't want to call it that but this kind of shows that it is."
Teresa Danks

Charles Best, a teacher at a Bronx public high school, created the site donorschoose.org after he realized how much money he and his colleagues were spending on books, art supplies, and other materials and figured there were people out there who'd want to help — if they could see where their money was going.

DonorsChoose.org provides a simple way for people who want to lend a hand to help teachers meet their classroom needs. Teachers post classroom project requests, and donors choose the ones they want to support. The site is open to every public school in America. Just enter your zip code to find a school near you!

CNN contributed to this report.

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