In her 14 years of teaching integrated pre-kindergarten at Kyrene de la Estrella, teacher Sally Tully has never received a gift quite like this.

After returning to school from winter break this semester, she received a gift card to Lakeshore Learning educational store for $145 to help pay for classroom supplies. The gift came from money raised during one of her students’ birthday parties that replaced presents.

“I was shocked and couldn’t believe that they had done this,” Tully said. “I’m just honored that they thought of me and all the children that would benefit.”

Since receiving the donation, Tully has purchased new toys and games specialized for building fine motor skills for her integrated classes of students with special needs. Tully also was able to get other supplies like name cards and outdoor toys for her pre-kindergarten classes.

“It was a very selfless act that they did,” she added. “Hands-on learning items are such a constant need.”

Connie Holcomb, an Ahwatukee resident and grandparent of one of Tully’s students, Eden, said she came up with the idea just before Eden’s fifth birthday in late December.

With the awareness of teachers’ out-of-pocket supply spending and looming budget deficit for the district as a whole, Holcomb thought raising money for her granddaughter’s class instead of friends buying gifts for Eden was a “win-win situation.”

“We really want her to start understanding the idea to give back to her community,” Holcomb said. “With just six or seven kids we were able to raise $145.”

Since giving Tully the donation in January, Holcomb expressed an interest to Estrella’s PTO in raising money for teachers’ supplies more often, and hopes that other parents or members of the school community follow her lead.

“We need to use common sense to solve problems to school issues,” said Holcomb. who also serves as the community chair for the Silver Creek neighborhood of Ahwatukee.

Despite Eden’s young age, both Tully and Holcomb agreed it is never too early to teach kids about giving, and Eden was happy to get new toys for herself and her classmates.

Tully applauded Holcomb’s idea and act of giving, adding that even a month after the donation she still smiles when reminded of the new supplies.

“Teaching children from an early age how good it can feel to give such a good gift to a community as opposed to just thinking about themselves is instilling such a powerful characteristic,” Tully said.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow on Twitter: @_dianamartinez.

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