Omaha parent creates company to help teachers with school supplies

It’s a subscription model where parents can donate $5, $10 or $20 a month
Teachers in the metro area will receive packs of free school supplies for their classrooms this week.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 7:33 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - School supplies aren’t cheap. Teachers often spend money out-of-pocket to get them for their students.

Alpaca is a locally owned and operated company that tries to alleviate that burden. This month, 800 teachers in Omaha will receive free packs of school supplies.

“At $700 to $1000 a year that teachers spend out-of-pocket, when you can put that money back in your pocket, it’s like getting a raise,” said Karen Borchert, founder of Alpaca.

Borchert is a mom to three kids who go to Omaha Public Schools.

“I put together the two ideas of really wanting to help teachers, but also wanting to have a technology-driven, simple way to do that.”

Alpaca works on a subscription model. Parents and people in the community can subscribe $5, $10 or $20 a month to any of the active Omaha schools. Then each month teachers will receive a free pack of school supplies. And each time it’s a surprise on what they’ll get.”

Rachel Morellocole is a mom to two children in the Omaha Public School system. Every month she donates $10 to Washington Elementary School. Tuesday, she and others donated their time to help assemble the packs.

Every month when this shows up on my statement, I remember that I’m doing something really valuable, so it doesn’t feel mindless to me. It feels like something that’s really impactful,” Morellocole.

“You can see all of these parents that are here helping pack up these packs, and saying to teachers with that action, ‘Hey, we really care about you. And you are an important part of our community and this work,’” said Borchert.

And because Alpaca buys in bulk, they say for every $1 in subscription money, they can get $2 worth of supplies.

“If you compare it to giving your teacher a $10 gift card, what they could buy at Target with a $10 gift card, we can put $15 to $20 worth of stuff in the pack for that.”

Right now, more than 20 schools are active in the program. If a school isn’t already active, someone can nominate it to join. Subscriptions stay within the school and only go to that school’s teachers.