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Thomas, Browns help local teachers

Posted Oct 16, 2013

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas and several teammates helped teachers “shop” for free school and classroom supplies at the Cleveland Kids in Need Resource Center Tuesday.

CLEVELAND -- As a captain, six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas is a leader on the field.

And he does not stop being a leader when he walks off the football field on Sundays.

Thomas, and his wife Annie, joined with several Cleveland Browns teammates Tuesday to help local teachers “shop” for free school and classroom supplies at the Cleveland Kids in Need Resource Center.

“In today’s day-and-age, the budgets for schools are really limited, compared to what it used to be,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot of necessary supplies and things that teachers need in their classrooms that they’re just not able to afford anymore. That’s where the Cleveland Kids in Need Resource Center steps in fill that gap between what that teacher’s budget is and what they really need in their classrooms to help educate the kids.

“Not everyone is going to be an NFL football player, and the great majority of people are going to rely on their education when they get out into the working world, so it’s important have a great education, and it’s going to start in the classroom with having the resources that the students and teachers need.”

The Thomases are the top individual contributors to the Cleveland Kids in Need Resource Center. Through their donations, the center has been able to expand its coverage beyond the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and reach students in the Cleveland Heights/University Heights, South Euclid, Euclid, Bedford, Warrensville Heights, Maple Heights, Garfield Heights and Lakewood school districts.

For teachers to be eligible to obtain supplies from the Cleveland Kids in Need Resource Center, 65 percent of the students in their schools must qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

“It’s so great having access to these materials that, otherwise, we wouldn’t have in our classrooms,” said Tracy Halm, a third-grade special-needs teacher at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Maple Heights. “A lot of our students don’t come to us with supplies, so all these materials help us teach the curriculum much better.”

Barbara Deeds, executive director of the Cleveland Kids in Need Resource Center added, “That gave us the infrastructure to go out and expand into those suburbs. With his help, and he’s our largest individual donor, we were able to get somebody to answer the phone, go get teacher lists and communicate with those suburbs.”

As a team, the Browns donated clipboards, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and classroom sets of collector’s cups for students to use as supply holders, which they hope will help students remain organized and ready to complete their homework each night.

“Education is a focus of the Cleveland Browns, and we do what we can to support the youth in our area,” said Jenner Tekancic, director of community relations for the Browns. “A couple of years ago, Joe and Annie came to us with an idea that they really wanted to help the teachers and students throughout the city overcome challenges. In this case, the goal was to provide students and teachers with the necessities they need to excel in the classroom, and through research, we connected with the Kids in Need Resource Center to have an instant impact.

“The site is a tremendous asset in local schools for the supplies they provide to help students. Many times throughout the year, there will be school drives championed by the media and local companies and this is where a lot of the supplies are sent to. We are proud to be (their partner), as the donations provided will continue to reach students throughout the year.”