BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Teachers spend thousands of dollars of their own money buying supplies for their classrooms every year. Many of them wish they could get the most needed items for free. Now they can, thanks to the Wish List Depot.

Gigi Barnett explains how it works.

The kindergartners in Jennifer Lawrence’s class at Johnston Square Elementary in East Baltimore are already reading, mostly from books that she buys.

Over the years, she’s spent thousands of dollars and countless hours in school supply stores.

“About $2000 a year. It’s a lot of money. Every Saturday I’m going to Staples or Target,” Lawrence said.

It’s the hidden cost of the profession. But Lawrence’s days of shopping on the weekend are over.

Now she can roam the aisles at a new school store. The shelves are stocked with everything teachers need, and it’s all free.

It’s called the Wish List Depot.

“It takes a special person to teach,” said Sharon Jones-Matthews.

Jones-Matthews started the supply store at Johnston Square. She’s an entrepreneur who got the idea a few years ago when her grandson’s teacher sent home a long list of needed supplies.

“I just assumed that it came from the school. I didn’t know that this teacher actually purchased it with her own funds, and I don’t like that,” Jones-Matthews said.

Teachers can find almost everything they need for their classrooms at the Wish List Depot, including pencils, glue and disinfecting wipes. Jones-Matthews says it’s a chore teachers don’t have to do anymore. Parents don’t either.

“Sometimes I’ll tell them ‘if you’re at Rite Aid or anything, pick up a glue stick. We need pencils.’ Now they’re not going to have to worry about things like that,” Lawrence said.

Over the next five years, Jones-Matthews plans to open 23 more Wish List Depots in the city.For teachers at Johnston Square, their wish is granted.

“We just get so excited. Christmas early for teachers,” Lawrence said.

If you’d like to donate to the Wish List Depot, click here.

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