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Valley teacher donates plasma to help pay bills

Posted at 7:46 AM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-30 10:46:38-04

The state of Arizona now has a balanced budget with more money going toward schools and much needed raises for teachers.

Members of the Arizona Education Association say while this is a good first step, there is still a long way to go.

For decades, many Arizona teachers have been forced to find second or third jobs to help make ends meet. From tutoring to working at restaurants and babysitting, many teachers are finding creative ways to supplement their school income.

Derek Foggy is a third-grade teacher in the Washington Elementary School District. Foggy sells his plasma two times a week to buy groceries for his family.

"Teaching doesn't always give us a comfortable state to live in, which is fine. I like working with children, that is what I have chosen," said Foggy.

Like so many of his colleagues, Foggy has been struggling to pay the bills on a teacher's salary. Arizona Education Association leaders tell ABC15, the average pay for a teacher in Arizona is about $43,000.

A spokeswoman for the Washington Elementary School District says the average teacher's salary in their district is about $49,000.

While Foggy makes more than that, as the sole provider for his family, he says it can still be a struggle. Selling plasma has been a quick way for him to make some extra money.

"It's a total donation of $90 a week," said Foggy. "It means that I can comfortably afford groceries for my family. It kind of gives us peace of mind."

Donating his plasma has also allowed his wife to be a stay-at-home mom, and care for their family. With high daycare costs, Foggy says it's a better deal for his family.

"I thought it was a really great idea because it's something he can do, but it doesn't require so much energy for him to expend," said his wife Kalyn.

He's not alone. Other teachers ABC15 spoke to have boosted their teacher's salaries by selling real estate, tutoring children in countries like China, and even delivering pizza.

"Anything you can do on nights and weekends," said Foggy.

ABC15 asked Foggy if donating plasma impacted his health in any way. "Well, BioLife does a lot of things to regulate where your health is at," he explained.

On one visit, he was told he was not able to donate because his protein levels were not up to their standards.

ABC15 reached out to BioLife to find out about their health guidelines. A spokesperson said it is perfectly safe for people to donate plasma twice a week because it regenerates quickly in our bodies.

They also added that BioLife follows strict criteria, and screens every donor, every single time they came in to donate. You can read more about their health guidelines here.

For Foggy, it was not much of a sacrifice, because it allows him to keep teaching and take care of his family.

"At the end of the day, you see that spark in a child, and it's very fulfilling," said Foggy