Aurora -- Aurora Co-op Preschool is taking advantage of the gifts-in-kind organization National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources to stretch its budget, offer more to its students and support charitable causes.
NAEIR collects excess merchandise from American corporations and redistributes it to non-profit organizations for free.
"The mission of the organization is to find brand new excess inventory from American corporations and funnel that to schools, non-profit organizations and teachers nationwide," said Gary Smith, NAEIR's president and chief executive officer .
NAEIR is the oldest and largest gifts-in-kind organization in the nation. It distributes products to a membership base of more than 13,000 charities, and members receive an average of $18,000 in free merchandise per year.
"We are a small school, and our budget is not very large," Aurora Co-op Preschool Director Ann Olsen said. "The money we save by using this gifts-in-kind program allows us to put money toward maintenance and operational costs."
The preschool's staff is comprised of three teachers, with 60 students. A co-op preschool allows parents to have active involvement in their child's early education, and the method is thought to enable independence while offering security in a child's early schooling.
"Obviously, we're a co-op, so we do have parents who volunteer," Olsen said. "We are so blessed because we have so many parents who donate things. This year we had carpet donated, and things like that."
Olsen joined NAEIR three years ago and takes advantage of the program's basic membership. The preschool pays an annual shipping and handling fee of $59 to receive free class materials such as office and art supplies, sporting goods, clothing, DVDs, toys, software, books and media, costumes and party goods.
THE BASIC membership allows the preschool to access three categories -- overstock items, clearance items and a teacher category. She is able to use NAEIR's catalogues or website to pick and choose products.
"For $9, any teacher can join," Olsen said. "It's highly worth it for teachers to join. Nine dollars a year! We pay $57 a year, and I cannot tell you the amount of money that we save."
NAEIR creates many positives when it accepts corporations' excess merchandise. Participating corporations receive a tax deduction, reduced storage costs and more warehouse space.
Also, corporation donations means there are less items clogging landfills. Some participating companies are Microsoft, Stanley Tools, 3M, Rubbermaid, Rand McNally, Reebok, Gillette, Xerox, SC Johnson, Louisville Slugger and Hallmark.
"They don't always have exactly what you want when you want it, but there are so many ways we found that we could utilize their products," Olsen said.
Olsen said she often thinks ahead when using NAEIR's website or catalogues to acquire items. For example, she often searches the clearance category after a particular season in order to use items for the next year.
Smith said the more active a member is, the more the member will benefit from NAEIR.
"And the contrary is true," he added. "If they do nothing, I can guarantee you they're going to get nothing for their membership because you have to be active. Some things we get in are in very high quantity, and other things are low quantity. So if they don't grab it, somebody else will. Participation is the key."
Prices are between 68 percent and 92 percent off, Olsen said.
NAEIR is not for everyone, Smith said, but he urges those interested to check into the organization. He also said interested organizations may call NAEIR customer service representatives with any questions. Visit www.naeir.org/ for more information.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4162