Minnesota native and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald surprised Minneapolis teachers when he recently completed the funding for $50,800 in classroom projects on DonorsChoose.org.
The donation was enough to fund all 58 requests from across 20 Minneapolis schools for basic needs, such as books, along with bigger projects, like a three-day trip to Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center for students at Andersen United School.
The donations were requested by teachers as part of #BestSchoolDay, a philanthropic flash mob of celebrities, business leaders and athletes who donate money to teachers and students.
Seth Rogan, Samuel L. Jackson and Ashton Kutcher are among other donors.
Hmong International Academy teacher Katherine Tellander learned about the #BestSchoolDay program last year when her team of teachers was looking for a way to fund materials needed to adapt lesson plans for students with special needs.
"As teachers, many times we have to fund materials out of our own pockets, especially working in a low-income area like north Minneapolis," she said. "Oftentimes, the school can't provide all the materials that our students need to learn, and we wanted to be able to give them those tools to be successful."
Fitzgerald's donation funded Tellander's class project of $231, which will cover a color printer and ink, a shockproof iPad cover, a bubble machine, and a switch-adapted toy.
"When we found out that our project had been funded so quickly, and by Larry Fitzgerald himself, we were ecstatic, and so very grateful. We care so much about our students and to have donors out there like Larry, who are giving back to the community, it makes all the difference in the world."
Tellander tweeted an invite for Fitzgerald to visit her class, along with a thank-you: a drawing of an Arizona Cardinals football signed by her students.
Four additional projects were funded in Hutchinson, Minn., by the Bezos Family Foundation.
"We're also encouraging people around the country to join the flash funders in supporting school projects that are meaningful to them," said DonorsChoose.org spokesperson Hillary Wasserman. "This is a great opportunity to highlight not only Larry's generosity in Minneapolis, but to encourage others to join him in [helping] kids across the U.S."