If your office storeroom overflows with old letterhead, unused corkboards and coffee mugs, I know who would be thrilled to have them.
Markers, key chains and an electric EXIT sign were among the blue light specials offered to Title I schoolteachers when I stopped by the Teaching Tools Supply Store. The Hillsborough Education Foundation, now in its new digs in Centro Español de West Tampa, collects castoffs for its "free store" for teachers at some of Hillsborough's poorest schools. All kinds of still-useful things save teachers from spending their own money.
"You'd be amazed at what you find. Not just staples but weird stuff," said Potter Elementary second grade teacher Jen Cadmus, loading plastic lobster margarita glasses in her shopping cart.
She'd much rather turn something into a reward for good behavior "than see it out on the curb."
The recent move to 2306 N Howard Ave. puts the store and foundation staff under one roof and offers a history lesson to boot, says Melinda Dale, marketing manager.
"We're seeking a grant for restoration of the historic building," Dale said, noting that the $1-a-year lease is extendable beyond the 10-year contract. She estimates the foundation provides the school district $5 million annually in grants, scholarships and supplies.
Once a month, any full-time teacher at one of the 87 eligible schools may take up to 25 items, usually about $250 worth. Teachers at one of the 68 schools on the waiting list can volunteer for three hours a month to earn a shopping coupon.
If you want to donate, host a Stuff the Bus supply drive or hear about the Tools 4 Schools breakfast benefit Sept. 2, call (813) 574-0260.
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Now you can stretch into "down dog" pose downtown on Sundays at Yoga in the Park.
Happy Buddha Yoga Lounge owner Francie Messano offers the free one-hour weekly session at 6 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park.
No charge for the sunset either. Dress comfortably and bring a mat, a towel and water. Maybe bug spray and sunscreen, too.
Participants are welcome at all levels, says Messano, who is assisted by yoga instructor Melissa Carroll.
Messano opened Happy Buddha at 206 E Cass St., across the street from Element condominiums, in June.
The mother of three girls says she's as "Type A is they come." She turned to yoga to alleviate neck pain while pursuing a master's degree in architecture at the University of South Florida.
"I'm a true testament to the ability of anyone to learn how to meditate and practice yoga,'' says the Channel District resident, who previously taught spinning and rock climbing.
Messano raves about the other park activities organized by Realm, a committee of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, including the monthly Rock the Park music event.
Prefer yoga indoors? Tampa Museum of Art offers yoga in the galleries from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Saturdays with Laura Tillinghast Hine. Classes cost $8 for members, $12 for nonmembers, and that includes museum admission. Call (813) 274-8130.
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It was some enchanted evening when eight young women crossed the crowded room at the 38th annual Krewe of the Knights of Sant'Yago debutante ball July 24. Strains of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific filled Higgins Hall as the 38th court led by king Michael Scannon and queen Samantha Fourqurean filled the stage.
Is the formal presentation, traditionally held to introduce women of marriageable age, still popular? If meeting people is the goal, wouldn't LinkedIn or Facebook be way more efficient? I asked a few of the white-gowned, white-gloved debutantes.
"It's confidence building," said Chamberlain High senior Chelsea Daubar, 16. "It will give me skills to be a woman."
Says youngest deb Kathleen Wadsworth, 16, of Steinbrenner High, "My friends think it's funny but cool. They all want to do it."
Plant High's Maria Bruyn, 17, participated "to honor the memory of my grandfather."
And 17-year-old Kalya Perez-Kelley's reason? "To say you've done it.''
A toast to Sant'Yago's 2010 debs: Mary Grace Ake, Devin Barnes, Maria Bruyn, Kasey Castro, Chelsea Daubar, Kayla Gintz, Kalya Perez-Kelley and Kathleen Wadsworth.