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Community Groups, Corporations Help Fill Budget Void For Philadelphia Public Schools

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Corporations and community groups are fast becoming an indispensable asset to Philadelphia public schools by helping to fill the budget gaps.

With school district deficits in the tens of millions of dollars it's the little things -- like paper, pens and protractors -- that get cut from the budget, so community groups and neighborhood residents are filing the void.

"Students were at computers that were nine or ten years old and they broke down frequently," says Abbey Thaker who works for Mount Airy USA, a community development corporation.  The group is part of a coalition that supports a half-dozen MT Airy area schools.

She says they'll replace the computer labs students at Emlen Elementary on Friday thanks to a community fundraising effort:

"This spring we raised over $47,000 for 33 iMac computers, and what I really like about the project is that it's energized our volunteers to do even more."

"We need to step up as citizens in this city to help our public school system," says Todd Bernstein, president of Global Citizen, which organizes the Martin Luther King Day of Service.

He and his media partners donated 50 boxes of school supplies to six schools in January and they're making another delivery on Monday.

"When we've delivered them, it's obvious that it's not just symbolic that it's really able to make a difference," he says, "we all have to step up-- education is not a spectator sport."

Bernstein says the group is accepting school supply donations through Sunday at several locations throughout the city.

For more on how your organization can partner with Philadelphia Public Schools, CLICK HERE.

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