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Buy a latte, help a school

Want to do some holiday shopping and help out a local school -- all in one fell swoop?

Borders has announced that this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5), when you buy something -- anything -- in-store, you get a $15 gift card to donate to a participating public school of your choice. And if you buy the book "Waiting for 'Superman': How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools," you get an additional $15 card to help a school.

Comics for classroom Here's how it works: Once you get the gift card, you go to, where you can browse through the projects that local teachers have posted. You can see a description of each project, an explanation of how it would help the students, and a breakdown of how the money will be spent. (You can also donate directly to the projects on the website, without shopping at Borders.)

A sampling of the local projects you can donate to:

- An English teacher at McKinley High School in Buffalo wants to buy an assortment of comic books to help get his students interested in reading. He writes: "One of the best tools I have found to turn non-readers into reader is the comic book. Simply put, students don't view comic books through the same lens as they do traditional books, and so they don't apply their negative opinions to them. Comics are 'easy' and 'interesting' in their minds."

- At Pine Hill Primary School teacher in Cheektowaga is hoping to buy a dollhouse and dolls (some white and some black) to help her students learn about families. "My students are generally low income families and have very little. Many of my students do not have the experience of playing with a doll of any type and using their imaginations to 'play together,'" she wrote. "It will be nice for them to be able to share experiences and realize who family members really are to us and the roles they play in our lives.

Classroom - At School 17 Early Childhood Center in Buffalo, a special ed teacher wants to buy an iPad to use some educational apps that will engage students. He'll be able to hook the iPad up to the classroom projector, so all the students benefit. "Three of the students in my class have autism, and three of my students are learning disabled," he wrote. "They are all excited about learning -- it's the matter of finding something new and exciting to capture their attention!"

- Photography students at Performing Arts in Buffalo would benefit from a digital camera that one teacher is hoping to purchase with donations. The school is trying to update its photography program to digital, but it needs some help.

"I am requesting a Nikon digital camera," the teacher wrote. "I have been pulling together cameras from different people who have donated or let me borrow them, and I have even purchased a couple myself, but we are still short. We are trying to get together at least enough cameras that half the class can use them at once, and then they can switch."

Plenty more worthy projects are detailed online at

- Mary Pasciak

E-mail me at or follow me on Follow  SchoolZoneBlog on Twitter Twitter.

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |