Retailer Responds to Heartfelt Letters of Need; Provides Total of $160,000 to 20 Schools
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (Aug. 25, 2009) – After hearing about a letter from eighth-grader Ty’Sheoma Bethea to her congressman pleading for the basic school necessities she and her classmates needed, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) began to wonder: how many other pleas are going unheard? Inspired by the courageous effort of one 14-year-old girl, Walmart launched the “Write to Change the Classroom” program, asking teachers, parents and students to write about their school-supply needs. And they did. After receiving hundreds of heartfelt requests, the retailer is awarding $8,000 in school supplies to each of the 20 selected schools.
“With only two ink cartridges for our entire school, I ask that my classroom have enough for printing so that my students can learn in color.”
“Basic needs at school are sometimes never met. I wish I had enough for all students to be set. Simple tools like crayons, paper and pens, so kids wouldn’t have to be without or borrow from friends.”
These are just some of the many specific needs for help Walmart received.
“Many schools are unable to provide the essentials – books, paper and pencils – for their students this year. We wanted to help,” said Janet Bareis, vice president of marketing, Walmart. “We are eager to continue the efforts started by Bethea and hope that we can bring positive change to classrooms this school year.”
Walmart today announced the 20 recipients who will each receive $4,000-worth of school supplies for her designated classroom and an additional $4,000 toward supplies for the entire school. Essays were judged by Bethea, as well as an esteemed panel of four nationally-recognized educators, and were reviewed based on the level of need, creativity and the positive impact these supplies would have on the school. The following teachers were selected as recipients:
- Meghan Blackburn, George I. Pair Elementary (West Columbia, S.C.)
- Tina Blalock, Lula Elementary School (Lula, Ga.)
- Dawn Cottman, Samuel P. Massie Elementary School (Forestville, Md.)
- Jan Creasey, Alta Loma Junior High School (Alta Loma, Calif.)
- Lynn Farr, Martin Elementary School (Flowery Branch, Ga.)
- Melissa Galvan, Abraham Lincoln Elementary (Pomona, Calif.)
- Cara Gebhard, Highlands Intermediate School (Pearl City, Hawaii)
- Anita Holmes, Anderson Elementary School (North Pole, Alaska)
- Cindy Lee, C.C. Snell Middle School (Bayard, N.M.)
- Sharon McIlwain, I.B. Tigrett Middle School (Jackson, Tenn.)
- Kathryn Mellette, North Hall Middle School (Gainesville, Ga.)
- Amy Metcalf, Cactus Shadows High School (Cave Creek, Ariz.)
- Rebecca Remsburg, Walkersville Middle School (Walkersville, Md.)
- Bridget Rodriguez, Flowery Branch High School (Flowery Branch, Ga.)
- Mitzi Scott, Briarmeadow Charter School (Houston, Texas)
- Lindsey Servé, Harrisburg Pike Community School (Columbus, Ohio)
- Cheryl Simon, Ethel Young Elementary (Houston, Texas)
- Kristi Summit, Southwestern Middle and High School (Hanover, Ind.)
- Jessica White, Searcy McRae Elementary (Searcy, Ark.)
- Linda Winfree, Baconton Community Charter School (Baconton, Ga.)
The “Write to Change the Classroom” panel of judges was selected based on outstanding teaching credentials and recognition by prestigious educational organizations around the nation. The panel of judges was comprised of Luajean Bryan, Tennessee 2009 Teacher of the Year; Margaret Williams, Missouri 2009 Teacher of the Year; Loredana Wicketts, California 2009 Teacher of the Year Honoree; Nancy Davidson, New Jersey Governor's Outstanding Teacher Award (1994) and Bethea.
“It was truly inspirational to read these passionate letters and to realize how little teachers have to work with, how many children face school unprepared economically and how difficult the learning situation becomes,” said Luajean Bryan, Tennessee 2009 Teacher of the Year who acted as a judge for the “Write to Change the Classroom” program. “Once I began reading the submissions – like a good book – I couldn’t put them down. It is a program like this that makes a positive impact in children’s lives by providing students with the tools and resources they may have otherwise gone without.”
For more information regarding Walmart’s "Write to Change the Classroom" program, please visit www.writetochangetheclassroom.com.
Every week, millions of customers visit Walmart stores, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $378 million to local communities in the United States.
# # #