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Spare Parts Fills A Local Educational Need For Art Supplies

When the legislature chopped $5 billion out of the school budgets in 2011, it had an unexpected result here in San Antonio. An organization was created called Spare Parts.

"It was pretty painful, the cuts in education," said Mary Elizabeth Cantu, founder of Spare Parts.

So her organization tried to provide some of what the budget no longer did, art supplies.

"By sustaining arts in our schools and supporting our youth in the arts, we are building artists, we are creating patrons and thespians and concert-goers," Cantu said.

Spare Parts gives materials that could be used to create art for pre-school ages through high school. Cantu said sometimes getting those supplies is as simple as getting a call from someone saying, "I just had a wedding and I have all this extra stuff, or we’re going out of business, or we just had a big convention and we have 200 binders for Spare Parts to pick up. Can you take these items now?"

Spare Parts aligns those with the need with the people who have the stuff.

"What Spare Parts is about is teaching people how to re-use the stuff that’s around them, look at the stuff around them differently" said Cantu. "The truth is there isn’t a lot of landfill space, things don’t disappear when we throw them in the trash can."

She said it’s great fun when they actually get to distribute.

"It’s like Christmas in July when they can pull all these supplies and take everything for free," she said.

And they do this all while saving the environment.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii