Local business owners have donated thousands of dollars of school supplies to the Montclair school district, just in time for the holiday season.

Cathy Kondreck, Montclair Education Association president, was approached in November by Kyle McTeer, an associate of Merit Fine Wine & Liquor owners, husband Kim Jhan and wife Un Lee. McTeer said the wine shop owners had a substantial amount of school supplies and were looking to donate it all to the district. 

Lee used to run a stationery store in Montclair, and when the store closed about ten years ago, the remaining merchandise was placed in storage, Jhan said. The couple planned to eventually donate it or sell it online, he said. 

The supplies, including pencils, pencil boxes, sketchbooks, desktop organizers, clocks, and more, retail for about $20,000, Jhan said. 

The couple was considering donating the supplies to the Salvation Army, but McTeer asked that it all be donated directly to the school district. And Jhan thought that was a great idea. 

“It’s good to give back,” Jhan said. “It will fit into an early Christmas present type of thing for the kids.”

When Kondreck learned more about the donation, she reached out to the district, the Montclair Principals Associations, the Montclair Head Custodians Association and the PTA Council, she said on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

“In the true spirit of collaboration, we joined together to pick up the supplies and are currently holding them in one of the district's buildings,” Kondreck said.

The school supplies will be equally distributed among the schools, with most of the items going to the Montclair Education Association’s annual Wrap & Roll event, which provides donated, pre-wrapped gifts to Montclair families.

The remaining supplies will be left with administrators at each school to distribute throughout the year as needs arise, Kondreck said. 

“The acceptance and distribution of this donation is proof positive that we all know how to work together in the best interest of our students,” Kondreck said. “Also, it is a testament to the tremendous generosity of Montclair residents and business owners. Dozens of students and families will benefit from this donation. Kim Jhan and Un Lee remind us how fortunate we are to be a part of this community.”

The donation still needs to be approved by the Montclair school board, which meets next on Dec. 12, David Cantor, executive director of communications and community engagement, said Nov. 30.