LAYTON -- As legislative funding continues to decrease, teacher-funded supplies in the classrooms continue to increase.
"My teachers probably spend $500 to $1,000 out of their pockets throughout the course of the school year," said Lori Hawthorne, principal at Crestview Elementary School in Layton. "Their classroom is always on their mind. If they find something that benefits their classroom, they buy it and never ask to be reimbursed."
OfficeMax, in partnership with Adopt-a-Classroom, wants to relieve some of the financial burden placed on teachers through their "A Day Made Better" program. The annual event awards 1,000 educators across the nation with more than $1,000 in school supplies.
On Tuesday, Layton's OfficeMax store surprised Emily Cooper, a fourth-grade teacher at Crestview Elementary, with a box overflowing with more than $1,000 worth of school-related items donated by corporate headquarters. Items included paper, notebooks, binders, staplers, a camera and a printer.
The unsuspecting Cooper was tearful when she received the donation.
"I just love teaching, and these guys know it," said Cooper. "I see the difference in them as they grow and progress. This is a very meaningful job for me."
For her students, it was like Christmas morning with all of the new supplies.
Gifts aside, they were excited for their teacher.
"I think that she really deserves it, because she spends a lot of time for us to have fun," said Ben Maycock, one of her fourth-graders.
The OfficeMax employees on hand to award the donations were as giddy as the students.
"I just love seeing the expression on the kids' faces and knowing how hard the teachers work," said Deb Hewitt, Layton store manager.
OfficeMax didn't stop at just the donation for Cooper. They brought in another box worth approximately $1,600 from corporate donations as well as in-store donations from customers. The added surprise means a lot for the school, especially because, as a Title 1 school, it does not send out lists to the parents asking for donations, Hawthorne said. The school simply provides what is needed.
With more than 20 store locations in Utah, and 1,000 nationwide, OfficeMax employees were busy playing Santa Claus for educators earlier this week as they continued the annual tradition that started in 2007.
"Every year, the teachers are so touched," said Layton OfficeMax Assistant Manager Doug Knowles. "They spend so much money because they simply can't get the supplies they need, but they still want to help their students."
Hawthorne, who nominated Cooper, is thrilled the teacher received the award this year. "She goes above and beyond for her students, using her own time and spending out of her own pocket for her students," she said.