MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Thanks to grant money from an eastern panhandle organization, 88 teachers now have some extra money to enhance the classroom experience for their students.

According to their website, the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation (EWVCF) is a non-profit organization “set up by local individuals dedicated to improving the quality of life in a specific geographic region”.

The office serves Jefferson, Morgan and Berkeley Counties with an affiliate office in Hampshire and Hardy Counties. The organization receives money primarily through local donors.

On November 29, 88 teachers from across the eastern panhandle received mini-grants totaling $35,000 during a reception in Martinsburg.

“We had a great night,” said EWVCF Executive Director Michael Whalton on MetroNews affiliate WEPM’s ‘Panhandle Live’. “Almost all of the teachers were able to attend. We funded projects that range from $34 for some art supplies to $500 for some really wonderful electronic tablets and such that teachers use in the classroom.”

To apply, interested teachers had to submit a one page application. Each application was reviewed by a committee leading up to Thursday’s reception. Whalton said grants can have a lasting impact on a child’s education while sharing a story from Paw Paw High School. The 7-12 grade school’s music teacher applied for a grant last year to purchase ukulele’s to enrich the school’s music education program.

“He got another grant this year, he was telling us that the ukulele’s are doing great. The kids are learning how to play them. It’s one of the first instruments other than beating on a drum that kids can learn to play because it’s a very simple instrument.”

Other educators choose to use the money toward the increasingly-popular STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

“A lot of teachers like to introduce their students to robotics and STEM materials that they’ve purchased,” said Whalton. “Then there’s just a lot of times they want to buy books for a classroom library so that the students, when they’ve got a free time, can go and get a book for that.

Find more information on the EWVCF, click here.

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