Organizing school supplies is THE. BEST. – an organizers dream! So when we were asked by our local Container Store to help out the staff of Tyler Heights Elementary, we jumped on it! The task? Get their busy school supply storage room prepped for the school year with wall to wall organizational systems.
About Tyler Heights
Tyler Heights Elementary is a special place. The staff and students work so hard to ensure that the needs of their community are met. About 92% of the student population is living below the poverty line. To support them and their families, the school collects donations of backpacks and school supplies, maintains a community pantry with both food and mother/baby supplies, and conducts a coat drive each fall.
The amount of donations they receive is incredible, and they all need a place to go!
When we arrived, all the school supplies were living in the community pantry space. It’s a large room, but because it serves so many purposes, the many boxes of school supplies in the middle of the room weren’t allowing it to function at its best.
Fortunately, there was a dedicated storage room available to become a school supply closet! Our goal was to organize and relocate all of the school supplies to this room in order to free up much-needed floor space in the community pantry.
The room was already outfitted with a series of metal shelving units and a cabinet at one end. We knew we would need to utilize every inch of these shelves in order to fit all of the donated school supplies.
The first step was removing all of the supplies (many of which were donated in bulk amounts) from the cardboard boxes and tubs holding them. As we did this, we divided the supplies by category and placed them in bins temporarily labeled with painter’s tape.
As the bins filled up, we dedicated each shelving unit to a broader category of supplies (like folders or paper) and built them from the ground up, so that the next shelf sat directly above a row of bins. We needed to make sure that the shelves weren’t too high, for fire safety, so avoiding wasted space in the layers kept us below the maximum height and also made things look much more custom.
When we were all done filling the shelving units we rolled them into the room and lined them up against the back wall. After a few layout adjustments to make sure we had the right flow, it was time to label! Check out the finished space below!
Look at how much space they gained back in the Community Pantry!
The star of the show in the storage room was a collection of Sterilite Garage Totes donated by The Container Store. They fit perfectly 3-across on the shelving units (no awkward gap!) and came in two sizes (50 quart and 25 quart) so we could vary the heights of the shelves based on how much we had to store in a particular category. These came with lids, but we took them off for easy access. Busy teachers need to be able to grab-and-go!
For backpacks, we used the Jumbo Box from the “Our” line at The Container Store. These storage-area staples are huge and we outfitted an entire shelving unit with them.
Connecting Book Bins from The Container Store were the perfect solution for these un-boxed pocket folders, which we arranged in rainbow order! These are great because they join together to keep everything in place. They don’t slide around or fall over when you pull something out. Connecting bins are great for offices, classrooms and playrooms. Files, picture books, and even workbooks would be great in these. Can you tell this was my favorite part of the project?! 😀
The Container Store Annapolis generously donated ALL of the bins we used and Monica of Bread and Butter Kitchen in Eastport fed us lunch and volunteered her time as well. Wendy and Sarah from my team donated their time to this special project. Sarah Daniels-Larson is the Tyler Heights Community School Program Manager, who was not only so helpful on this project, but coordinates many others at the school. She rolled up her sleeves and worked hard with us all day. Thank you all!
The staff at T.H.E. was so kind, and they are doing so much to care for their students and local community. We were honored to lend our talents for a day to support them in their efforts. If you would like to help the kids of Tyler Heights, please consider donating to their ongoing coat drive. It runs through mid-November. (They are also looking for new lunchboxes!)
If you’d like to see more about how this project came together, head to my Instagram highlights. And be sure to follow me there @systemsbysusie. We are working on another amazing project this fall with The Container Store and Westfield Annapolis Mall to gift a room makeover to a deserving military family. You won’t want to miss the transformation!