For school administrators, shrinking budgets mean numbers that won't add up, which ultimately leaves students without enough pencils or paper. But one group is trying to help by connecting donors with schools in need.
Daisy Caban, a first-grade teacher at PS 152 Dyckman Valley in the Bronx, New York, said that budget cuts in the city's public schools mean that she will not have enough supplies to get through the year.
"The schools, yes, they provide us with some materials," Caban said. "But through the year, you know, you run out and then you don't get anymore."
So Caban, like thousands of public school teachers around the country, buys them herself.
"I probably spend $400 out of my pocket a year," she said.
It's not that she is required to spend the money herself, she said, but she does it because the families of many of her students could not afford to get what they need.
"Some of them can and some of them can't," she said. "Most kids here, they are from low income and they don't have the money to buy the supplies that they need."
One study finds that more than 90 percent of public school teachers spend their own money to provide basic supplies for their students, spending an average of nearly $500 a year.
But now they are getting some help. World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, is now providing supplies to more than 350,000 students nationwide.
"We try to make connections between donors and people who don't have enough, and we try to empower the community by products that they need," said Tim Bomgardner, the general manager of the World Vision Storehouse in New York.
World Vision goes directly to suppliers -- companies like Staples -- to get them to donate excess inventory.
The supplies are brought to one of eight World Vision Storehouses around the country and then distributed to centers where teachers come to "shop."
At the storehouse in the Bronx, teachers like Caban can search the aisles of the 46,000-square-foot warehouse, and find everything from erasers to textbooks.
"It's a big warehouse and it's a lot of materials," she said. "Usually we walk around and we see what we can use in the classroom, depending on the grade that we're teaching."
On a recent trip, she said, she got notebooks, pencils, folders and composition paper for her students.
"They love to write," she said.
Helping teachers get what they need also takes a burden off of parents. According to the National Retail Federation, families of schoolchildren will spend close to $100 every year on school supplies. For many parents, $100 is a lot.
"This is great, because the way things are going it's very helpful," Bronx parent Ruth Cano said. "You've got to try to stretch out your money to buy things."