It's that time of year again when kids are getting ready to go back to school -- and when many local public school teachers pay out of their own pockets for essential classroom supplies.
"Schools don't really give teachers anything, so they use their own money to come up with most of their supplies," says David Perruzza of JR.'s. "I kind of knew that they had to get some supplies, but I didn't realize the extent."
JR.'s Bar and Grill
(Photo by Todd Franson)
Last year Perruzza read a Facebook post by a local teacher and JR.'s regular -- "We have a ton of customers who are gay teachers," says Perruzza -- requesting donations of used items from friends. "How about you give me a list of what you need," Perruzza suggested, "and we'll do a drive for teachers."
Last year's School Supplies Drive brought in about $500 worth of goods from patrons, who received a card for a free drink at the bar in return, limit one per day. With more time and effort in planning and promotion, Perruzza is aiming for a lot more from this year's drive, which runs for most of the month of September.
Developed in consultation with local teachers, this year's list of needed supplies includes dry-erase markers, pens and pencils, printer paper, construction paper and earphones -- "you know, like headphones," Perruzza helpfully explains. Customers are asked to bring in a minimum of $6 worth of donated goods.
"We want people to literally give back to their community," Perruzza says. "They get a free drink and they're doing something good for school teachers in the District and neighboring areas."
Any teacher in need of supplies is welcome to drop by JR.'s during the drive. "I'll just basically let them go shopping in our back room to get school supplies."
The drive kicks off Tuesday, Sept. 10, during a Back to School Night event hosted by local drag queen Birdie LaCage, who will perform a live cabaret show that night. LaCage, who will become the regular host at JR.'s on Tuesdays, which Perruzza is now referring to as "Singles Night," will also play matchmaker, pairing guys together to see if they spark.
The School Supplies Drive starts Tuesday, Sept. 10, at JR.'s, 1519 17th St. NW. Call 202-328-0090 or visit jrsbardc.com.