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Turning trash into classroom treasure–a new way for businesses to help our schools


A new tax-deductible way for businesses to help Orange County Students by donating unneeded office supplies.

Photo cred. child creativity lab

Free supplies available to Orange County Teachers, School Staff and At Home Teachers.  Photo cred. child creativity lab

SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA in the Fall of 2015 the Child Creativity Lab opened its doors to the Depot for Creative Reuse, a reusable materials resource for teachers, afterschool programs, community organizations, artists, and families. Their facility is located at 1815 E. Wilshire Avenue, Suite 906 in Santa Ana. The Child Creativity Lab’s mission is to nurture the creative mindset of our children in the headwinds of the busy parents, the consuming technology culture of our youth, and standardized testing for purposes of enhancing problem solving, critical thinking, divergent thinking, and ability to innovate.  The nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization offers STEM-based educational programs that focus on creativity-enhancing stimulation and inspiration in alignment and in support of overarching California State Department of Education initiatives for pre-K through 8th graders.

The organization’s newest program allows business to donate their unneeded office and manufacturing supplies to be used in schools. This is a simple way for businesses to help out kids in our community. How many times have you thought, “[I]t’s a shame we are throwing perfectly good office supplies away. There is nothing wrong with them except for the fact that we just don’t have room for them anymore.” ?

The non-profit organization’s newest program will be filled with reclaimed and reusable materials donated by OC businesses.  They accept a large variety of materials including: clean manufacturing scraps, a variety of colorful fabrics and textiles, paper goods, decorations, coffee bean burlap sacks, school supplies, picture frame moldings, paper and many other items that can be repurposed for educational projects, arts and craft supplies, and home decorating.

There is a great need to help out public education in California.  According to a study done by EdWeek, California’s schools ranks in the bottom 5th among the nation’s states; and according to figures from, the average teacher in California takes home a bit under $70,000, even though he/she has a high teacher/student ratio of 1:23.7.  According to the NEA average per/pupil spending was $9,541, the amount of money California schools had to spend on each class was only ($9,541 x 23.7) $226,121 during the 2011-2012 school year. Even with the large increases school spending in the state budget, that’s not enough. After teacher compensation and administrative costs, teachers may not have the basic materials needed to engage students in creative learning plans.

Child Creativity Lab’s focus on hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, the Depot for Creative Reuse will also provide pre-packaged STEM-Based Challenge Kits that support the continued engagement and enrichment of STEM fields in our youth. Monetary donations will allow Child Creativity Lab to distribute these materials free of charge to educators, afterschool providers, and other community programs serving underprivileged children.

Teachers and school staff can access donated materials through the Depot for Creative Reuse’s membership program. “Providing this resource to our local education sector meets a considerable unmet need,” said Peter Chang, Executive Director of the Child Creativity Lab. “According to a recent study summarized in Forbes magazine, teachers are spending significant amounts from their own pockets – over $500 per year per teacher – in order to provide supplies and instructional materials for their classroom every year. The Child Creativity Lab Depot for Creative Reuse will help to alleviate some of that financial burden while assuring creativity in the classroom isn’t compromised.”

While surrounding counties have had the luxury of reusable materials centers for their communities, Orange County has been lacking. Jenn Kinkel, President of the Orange County Chapter of the California School-Age Consortium, has had to drive to Gardena (approximately 33 miles from Santa Ana) to Trash 4 Teachers to get her inexpensive educational supplies over the years. “The beauty in a local resource such as the Depot for Creative Reuse is that it will undoubtedly serve as a multifaceted tool for teachers, for families and for the community,” emphasized by Ms. Kinkel. “While visitors will utilize the ‘loose parts’ that are meant to develop creativity and critical thinking skills, an equally compelling side benefit is that these materials that would otherwise be discarded will be given a new life.”


Since 1982, the California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC) has worked to support and advance the out-of-school time field by connecting professionals, enhancing competency, and building community. CalSAC offers a variety of resources to help support out-of-school time programs, including free and low-cost trainings through their statewide Trainer Network. These trainings include, but are not limited to: STEM, Bullying Prevention, Behavior Guidance, English Learner, Behavior Guidance, etc.

Peter Chang contributed to this article. For more information please contact the Child Creativity Lab at (714) 580-8392 or



Reference Ballotipedia article
Education week
Problems with reported spending levels


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