ELKHART -

Local teachers are already getting ready for the start of the new school year, many of them spending their own money to make sure their students have what they need.

Every year, they can count on the Teachers Store to help.

It's the fifth year the Teachers Store will be up and running at Feed the Children in Elkhart, a huge warehouse with school supplies that eligible teachers can pick up for free to use in their classrooms.

All of the items are made available through corporate donations from businesses like the Office Depot Foundation and CVS.

"What we're able to do here is we're allowing the pre-approved school district staff members to come and shop once a month," said John Tracy of Feed the Children. "They are taking $300 to $400 worth of supplies each month."

Shelves have been filling at the warehouse since the beginning of July to get ready for the program.

"We have some teachers that come every month faithfully," said Darlene Anderson of the Teachers Store. "They can shop once a month, and it doesn't matter when they shop throughout the month. They can come at the end of one month and start the end of the next month."

47 pre-approved school districts in Indiana and Michigan are involved in the program with a total roster of 10,000 teachers. Last year alone, they gave away $6 million worth of school supplies.

The first day for eligible Indiana teachers to pick up supplies is Thursday, August 7, and for Michigan teachers, it's Thursday, August 28.

One of those who has benefited from the Teachers Store is Lorna Guthrie, a South Bend teacher, who also volunteers at the store.

"I use to go out and buy stuff for my class and for my room, and it really cost me a lot," said Guthrie. "You choose just what you need for your classroom."