By Sue Botos
Teachers nationwide were surprised last week with more than $1 million in classroom supplies donated by OfficeMax and its “A Day Made Better” program. But none could have been more flabbergasted than Kensington Intermediate School teacher Amy Wilhelmy.
“Is this all for our classroom?” Wilhelmy asked members of the OfficeMax “prize patrol” made up of Rocky River store manager Pete Fellers and several employees. Her third-graders gathered around in amazement as the group brought in a giant box filled with notebooks, glue sticks, a pencil sharpener and other classroom supplies. Another held books donated by store customers. Plus, there were flowers and a brand-new desk chair for the teacher.
“I don’t know what to say. This will all be put to good use here at Kensington,” stated Wilhelmy, noting that Principal Todd Murphy and others in on the surprise made sure she was in her classroom at the right time. “They asked me when my planning period was, but I thought there was going to be a meeting,” she revealed.
Oct. 4 marked the fifth year of the program in which OfficeMax associates surprise 1,000 teachers across the country in their classrooms with $1,000 each worth of school supplies, equaling $1 million. Added this year was an in-store drive in which customers contributed more than an additional $700,000 in materials across OfficeMax’s approximately 900 stores nationwide. These supplies were also donated that day to schools in each community where there are OfficeMax stores.
“A Day Made Better” came about in response to the fact that due to shrinking state funding for education, teachers often spend their own money on items for their classrooms. The program — in partnership with Adopt-A-Classroom, a national nonprofit dedicated to teacher support and the access of all children to a quality education — aims to help end the need for teachers to reach into their pockets. It is estimated that instructors spend about $1,000 of their own cash annually on their classrooms.
Wilhelmy was nominated for the program by Murphy. In his nomination he stated, “Amy is an intelligent and resourceful self-starter who has favorably impressed her students and parents with her work, and who, likewise, has earned great respect and admiration among her colleagues.”
He added, “If Amy won this award, she would share her recognition with her students to assist them in being successful learners.”
True to these words, Wilhelmy, after recovering from the shock of winning, announced to the class, “It will be so much fun to share all of these things.”
OfficeMax employees also shared in the fun. “This is just like Christmas!” exclaimed Lori Moses.
Fellers, who has participated in the program for all five years, looks forward to the “Day Made Better” each year.
“I love the looks on the kids’ faces,” he remarked.