Burlington Stores, Inc., through its partnership with a national non-profit organization, AdoptAClassroom.org, donated $10,000 to Walnut Street Elementary School in celebration of its new store opening on Hooper Avenue in Toms River.
Representatives from Burlington Stores were on hand to present the check to Walnut Street Principal Richard Fastnacht and other district administrators during a surprise assembly that took place at the school on Thursday, September 26.
Teachers and students erupted in cheers and applause as it became clear what the assembly, disguised as an all-school photo, really had in store for them.
"I have been fibbing to you," quipped Principal Fastnacht. "I did not gather you all here for an all-school photo. Instead, there is a very special announcement from our friends at Burlington."
That's when Wendee Galindo Patino, store manager and former Walnut Street Wildcat, made the announcement in front of the entire school.
"It's very exciting for me to be back here at this amazing school," said Ms. Galindo Patino. "Burlington is proud to support the neighborhoods and communities where we work and we couldn't be happier to 'adopt' your teachers so they can buy new classroom supplies."
The $10,000 will be split evenly among the approximately 60 teachers at the school so that they can purchase new supplies and classroom materials. The teachers will be provided with an online marketplace of nearly 30 school specialty and office supply vendors where they can purchase the materials and educational resources.
"This was a wonderful surprise and shows great generosity from the store to support our district and school like this," said Lisa Hankins, first grade teacher. "I'm not sure what I'll order yet, but I would love to purchase leveled libraries."
Melinda Salmons, 2nd grade teacher, shared the same sentiment. "This was a big surprise. My students love to read, I would love to purchase new books for them."
The connection between Walnut Street Elementary and Burlington began when a representative from AdoptAClassroom.org contacted Assistant Superintendent Debra McKenna with the opportunity. This was all it took to help secure the donation for Walnut Street Elementary.
"We have an amazing staff here at Walnut Street and Burlington is recognizing that with this generous donation," said Principal Fastnacht. "This would not have been possible without the support from our central office, especially Mrs. McKenna, Superintendent David Healy, and Director of Curriculum K-5 Cara DiMeo, who are here to help us celebrate today."
Burlington Stores holds similar assemblies across the country in each town where a new store is set to open. In 2018-2019, Burlington Stores and AdoptAClassroom.org adopted more than 60 schools across the nation.
According to the Burlington Store representatives, the grand opening at the Toms River store is set for Friday, October 11. They will host a family fun day in conjunction with the grand opening on Saturday, October 12 with activities like balloon animals and a DJ. All are invited to attend the event.