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Teachers get free school supplies at Surplus Exchange

By Katie Pohlman

Teachers can check some items off their back-to-school shopping list by visiting Surplus Exchange and picking up free supplies for school.

From slightly used binders and binder clips to new folders, staples and packages of paper, teachers can pick up free school supplies by showing a valid school ID.

“It’s a smorgasbord,” said Ben Martin, operations manager for Surplus Exchange.

While teachers can receive these deals all year-round, Surplus Exchange, 518 Santa Fe St., Kansas City, MO, has been working to increase donations of school supplies before the beginning of the school year.

Teachers also receive a 25-percent discount on electronics and office furniture. Surplus Exchange primarily collects and recycles used electronic equipment like computers, laptops, printers and notebooks, as well as office furniture like desks, chairs, file cabinets and conference tables.

But along with the big items, often comes the supplies that can be used with them. Last year, the first year of the free school supplies deal, Martin said they ran out of school supplies. So this year, they had to ask for more donations in order to try to make the same impact.

“From talking to teachers (last year) we found out that they are being counted on to bring the supplies to the table on their own, and they’re expected to pay out of pocket,” he said.

The event was started, at first to get more school supplies out the door, Martin said, but it was continued to help the teachers.

“For the longest time, we’d go out there and collect this stuff and sell some of it here,” he said. “It got to the point where we were just accumulating and accumulating and not moving as much stuff out as we were bringing in.”

The Surplus Exchange is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. You can visit their website at

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