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Mary Elizabeth Cantu doesn’t believe in throwing anything away, and because of this she’s probably helped create a small tribe of future Picassos, Monets, Kahlos and Riveras. Her voluntary efforts to give art teachers in San Antonio, Texas, schools, the raw materials they need has made her a rock star with grateful teachers, their excited art students and a thrilled number of parents.
After receiving her master’s degree in art education from the University Texas at Austin, Cantu moved back to her hometown of San Antonio to teach. But within a couple of years, she lost her job after the Texas education budget was slashed significantly.
She says she decided to do what she loved—support the arts and local schools, even if she had to do it on a volunteer basis. So, in 2010, she launched the non-profit arts organization called Spare PARTS.
“It works like this: I dedicate my time all year (Cantu holds a part-time job as a college art history professor), making connections with various organizations. These companies donate free supplies. This is stuff they would otherwise dump,” Cantu said. “But many of these things can absolutely be used for art projects.”
Cantu and volunteers then distribute the goods to needy schools in August before the school year begins.
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