Packratitis is an understandable side effect of the constant spectre of budget cuts, newbie colleagues who need stuff, purchased curricula that call for unpurchased manipulatives, students who like to chew on things, and the MacGuyverism of any urban school teacher ("The microwave in the staff room blew out all the power in the school and maintenance gave us "top priority" status, so we've got at least 72 hours without heat? NO PROBLEM - with this gum wrapper, dust bunny and...").
When I started teaching and had nothing I used to go bug-eyed at the supplies others had stockpiled - several thousand dinosaur counters stored in an overflowing 40 gallon container, shelves full of used pencils, paint last used in French caves, etc. Teaching in a portable classroom kept me from indulging too much for a couple of years. Now I look back upon the shelving options in the portables with fondness, since my current classroom is huge but lacks storage.
And I have so much stuff, because I might throw this copy out and not be able to find the original (the last major reorginization job I have is this one, but it's been in the pipeline for three years and barring a cure for ADHD I don't think it's happening). And then there have been a couple of dream world Donors Choose projects that actually got funded. Plus, once I got rid of all the garbage that was left behind by the person who taught in this room before me I had some extra cabinets. I couldn't have known that when my dear friend's mom retired, she'd give me so much awesome stuff (half of which I still have to pick up, since the first half overwhelmed my car). The last three years have all been budget cut years, too, and nothing makes one pack rat it up more than that. Also, my superpower is finding. I hope one day to discover something truly excellent, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, tucked inside an old discounted teaching manual published by the Department of Health. I will use it to fund the classroom of my dreams. Until then, I am the queen of the mysterious drawer at SCRAP or RAFT, the miner of the Children's Book Project, and the superstar of sales.
This is why I am the proud owner of six raccoon-in-garbage-can handpuppets. Hey, they were a buck apiece (marked down from $25). I'm sure they'll come in handy.