Retailer eases teachers’ burden

Published 8:46 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2012

College Drive Walmart assistant manager Monte Gregory distributes gift cards and classroom supplies at Florence Bowser Elementary School last Wednesday. Kindergarten teacher Jamie Outlaw and first-grade teacher Holly Pentecost, pictured, were two of 20 appreciative teachers to receive the gift cards.

Teachers at Florence Bowser Elementary School recently received $50 gift cards from Walmart under the retail giant’s Teacher Rewards program.

Staff from College Drive Walmart in North Suffolk distributed 20 gift cards along with three boxes of classroom supplies at the school last Wednesday.

“They came last Wednesday and wanted it to be a secret,” Florence Bowser principal Frances Barnes said.

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The school happened to have a staff meeting already scheduled, she said, and the Walmart folks took the opportunity to spread their joy.

Barnes said the Walmart employees told the teachers they were valued. She added that the store had contacted the school to learn what they most needed in terms of classroom supplies.

Walmart has now been donating supplies to teachers for four years, and in 2012 has donated up to $4.5 million to help 90,000 teachers.

“These funds come at a critical time, as U.S. teachers going back to school will often spend their own money to ensure their students have the supplies they need to learn throughout the school year,” a company press release states.

The campaign enables more than 4,600 U.S. Walmart stores, distribution centers and Sam’s Club locations to select one kindergarten-through-eighth-grade public school to benefit.

Gregory described a rewarding experience in presenting the cards and supplies. “They were very appreciative,” he said.

“It felt like it was the holidays, and everybody was excited and having fun and really appreciative.

“They seemed like a bunch of team players; it seemed like all those folks all get along really good.”

The store had “just looked for a school that was close to us; we try to keep it near the community. That’s what we really push, our community; we try to work with the community.”

He paid special tribute to the North Suffolk store’s invoicing clerk, Rosa Cowan, for helping select the school and coordinate the donation.

Barnes said that the school is “thankful for anything.” Some of the supplies, she said, will go to the school’s “treasure chest,” from which students can buy items with tickets earned by good work and behavior.

“Some we can put in the office to be used by teachers and students when they need them,” she said.

The Walmart crew also brought cupcakes, Barnes said, adding, “I think the teachers were very surprised.

“We were very happy that they chose our school this year.”