The Teacher’s Desk donating backpacks to students displaced by hurricanes

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — At the Teacher’s Desk in Buffalo, Director John Mika is on a mission to help kids who have come to Buffalo with very little get a fresh start.

“It’s kids coming in from Puerto Rico, from many many third world countries that do not speak English at all,” said John Mika, The Teacher’s Desk Director.

The non-profit provides free school supplies for teachers to supply for students in need. Being able to do so depends on donations, so a volunteer sought out some help by using a “Wish Machine” at Microsoft in the Walden Galleria.

“Basically all it is 30 second video that you record on their amazing technological setup that they have there and you just tell them exactly what it is that you’d like funding for,” said Robin Penberthy, The Teacher’s Desk volunteer.

She asked for funding for the program called “A Good Start” which gives backpacks to refugees and students coming to Buffalo Public Schools displaced by hurricanes.

“Two weeks later after I submitted the video I was contacted by their district manager who said they were giving us a $3,000 gift,” said Penberthy.

Each backpack is filled with all the school supplies you can think of like pens, notebooks, and hats for the winter. Filling each backpack costs about $10 and after today’s donation the Teacher’s Desk non-profit will be able to donate 300 more.

“When you’re coming in with nothing to the Buffalo schools and now you have something, it makes a good start for them,” said Mika.

As of last week Buffalo Public Schools received 418 students displaced from hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and a total of nearly 500 students from all three hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma.

“We’re told the number is going to be about 3,000 children a year. Right now we’ve just packed up our 700th backpack for the school year,” said Mika. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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