Alice Keffer knew something was “up” when Eldridge Park School Principal Amy Amiet called for an all-school assembly last month.
Keffer, who teaches third grade, along with the rest of the teachers and students in the grades K-3 elementary school gathered in the all-purpose room at the school on Lawn Park Avenue at 8 a.m. sharp on Nov. 5.
That’s when representatives from Burlington Stores Inc. and AdoptAClassroom presented the school with a surprise donation of $10,000. The money was donated to the school in celebration of opening of a new Burlington Coat Factory store at the Nassau Park Pavilion.
Burlington Stores Inc., in a partnership with AdoptAClassroom, makes a donation to a local school whenever it opens a new store. The store at the Nassau Park Pavilion opened in the fall.
AdoptAClassroom serves teachers and principals in grades K-12 schools – public, private and charter. It connects sponsors and donors – including corporate donors, such as Burlington Stores Inc. – to teachers and schools.
Amiet said she learned that the Eldridge Park School was going to receive a donation when she was contacted by Andrew Zuckerman, the Lawrence Township Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
AdoptAClassroom and Burlington Stores Inc. said they would like to make a donation to a school, and Zuckerman suggested the Eldridge Park School.
“Who is going to say ‘no’ to a check for $10,000?” Amiet asked.
“We surprised the teachers and the students. As soon as the children saw the [oversized] check for $10,000, it was like Publisher’s Clearinghouse. They were excited. The teachers appreciated it,” she said.
Amiet said she is leaving it up to the teachers to decide how they want to use their portion of the $10,000 gift. They can use the money to buy school supplies from one of several online vendors associated with the program.
Keffer said that she and several second- and third-grade teachers have decided to pool their money to enlarge the book closet at the elementary school.
The book closet is a narrow closet where Jen Chiaramida, the school’s reading specialist, keeps books for the students. The plan is to move across the hallway into a larger closet, Keffer said. The books are spilling out of the closet now, but the new room would enable teachers to organize the books.
“We always talked about (enlarging the book closet). Now we have the money to do it. It will be money well spent,” Keffer said.
The children are learning to read, so the books are geared toward their reading level. There are also supportive materials that go along with the books, and it requires room for storage.
The enlarged book closet would enable the teachers to order new books as well. There are novels and books about different topics, ranging from the Titanic to giraffes.
“We have a huge, diverse population of students and what they are interested in. They love learning,” Keffer said. “The children love factual things. If there is a book on pirates, the boys will read it in one sitting. It opens a new world of information.”