As the 2020-21 school year started under new and challenging circumstances, Conroe ISD’s Armstrong Elementary was gifted $10,000 from Burlington Coat Factory through AdoptAClassroom.org. The money was distributed to the school’s teachers to purchase new items for their classrooms.
When Burlington opens a new store, part of its celebration is to raise funds for education and gift those funds to a local school. Earlier this year, Burlington opened a new store in the Conroe area and with the help of Conroe ISD and AdoptAClassroom.org, chose to give the funds to Armstrong Elementary.
“During this pandemic, teachers have been stretched beyond their limits with learning new technologies and then having to teach virtually and face-to-face, so being able to bring some good news to the teachers, to bring a smile to their face, was exciting,” said Theresa Waller, principal of Armstrong Elementary. “We needed that in the moment.”
AdoptAClassroom.org is a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota that serves all 50 states and U.S. territories. The online platform started as a way for teachers to crowdfund for classroom necessities, which teachers can still do through the site, and partners with corporate sponsors like Burlington to raise and donate funds to gift to schools in need.
“At AdoptAClassroom we believe that these partnerships are crucial to helping and supporting schools and ensuring they have what they need,” said Sarah Fowler, account manager at AdoptAClassroom.org. “Community support is really important and that’s one of the things that we really love about our partnership with Burlington because they obviously really care about educators and teachers and students in the communities where they live and work.”
The funds raised by Burlington are given to AdoptAClassroom.org, which then gives them to the school teachers through credits to an online market where they can purchase new items for their classrooms. Books, furniture, science equipment, musical instruments, and various other school supplies can be found in the market.
Each teacher at Armstrong was able to use around $200 to purchase new items for their class. So far, Waller has seen her teachers order books, bookends, games, whiteboards, and markers, with more boxes of stuff yet to arrive.
“It’s been a major blessing for our campus, for our student population, to have those extras, and for our teachers to get some things that they would probably have purchased on their own, because teachers spend a lot of their own money,” Waller said.
This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, a few things have changed about the AdoptAClassroom.org process. Originally, Armstrong Elementary was supposed to be adopted in the spring, but the pandemic delayed that until the fall semester. But, because it was supposed to be adopted earlier, Armstrong received the full $10,000. Fundraising was not as successful this semester because of COVID and some adopted schools will be receiving $5,000 instead.
The announcement ceremony for the adoption was also adjusted for health and safety. Instead of receiving the news and the ceremonial big check in a community celebration, Armstrong heard the announcement virtually. This didn’t see to dampen any of the excitement.
“The teachers were just ecstatic,” said Crystal Dozier, store manager for the new Conroe Burlington location, of the reaction the school had when she presented the check. “They had so many great comments, they were thrilled.”
For Dozier, it means a lot to be able to give back to the community in this way.
“It really heightens our focus on the commitment to community and families,” she said, describing the experience as rewarding. “Especially during these challenging times.”