For teachers, at Vision Bank of Ada, money really does grow on trees.
The bank and its employees are continuing a three-year-old tradition designed to help teachers get the supplies they need to teach area children this fall.
Stepping inside the downtown Ada and Arlington locations, visitors are greeted by “Teacher Trees” filled with yellow, green and red paper leaves. The leaves represent items on a teacher’s wish list for the upcoming school year. Yellow means the least expensive items, green is in the middle and red is the most expensive.
“Basically, it helps them get the little necessities they need,” said Vision Bank Marketing Officer Jaylea Harpole. “Whether it be glue sticks, card stock or staples. Just the little things they have to go out and buy themselves.”
Any Pontotoc County teacher can participate. Vision Bank encourages teachers who have never participated to join in.
“It has grown each year. Every single teacher can have one of each color. They can have up to three apples,” said Vision Bank Senior Vice President of Marketing Vicki Patton.
As of Friday, there were around 700 apples split between the downtown Ada and Arlington locations. The items listed on the leaves vary from Post-it notes to electric pencil sharpeners and a paper shredder.
“This will supply stuff for our classroom that otherwise the kids wouldn’t have,” said Stonewall first-grade teacher Connie Tatum. “I’m all the time digging for Sharpies, and this way we can write their names on things big and bold.”
Vision Bank officials said the program is designed to allow local teachers to focus their time on their children instead of fretting about how they will stock their classrooms, which can turn costly rather quickly for teachers and for children unable to afford their own school supplies.
“This is going to help provide things that will take a little stress off of me, that I don’t have to purchase for my classroom, and I can use that money for other things,” said Vanoss fourth-grade teacher Bekka Ogles.
Items purchased for teachers may be taken to either location, along with their corresponding leaf, to be rounded up at the end. Bank staffers know which items go to which teachers because the leaves are coded on the back.
“One of the things I asked for this year was a gift card to Walmart. I have a treasure box that I like to fill with snack stuff for the kids to earn, instead of toys, because that seems to be a big thing with the kids, to have food and things that they can earn,” Ogles said.
Willard sixth-grade teacher Linda Harwell said she hopes to receive staples gift cards.
“There are times when I don’t have something, and I can run out there and get it,” Harwell said. “Otherwise, I would put something like pencils, tape and Post-it notes (on my list).”
Each item listed by teachers satisfies a specific need. Some need small items, while others need new bookshelves to tame their overflowing books.
“I teach reading, so I have books everywhere, so I’m always in need of book shelves,” Tatum said.
Vision Bank staff members say the “teacher trees” thrive when community members step into Vision Bank locations and pluck a leaf from the tree.
“This is a way to show our support and, really, it’s up to the community,” Harpole said. “When the community shows up, (that’s) when the (giving) happens.”