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Teacher Asks For Backpacks And School Supplies For Children In Lieu Of Flowers At Her Funeral

Her community stepped up to help kids who needed it most.

Photo by Morgan/Flickr

For 25 years, Tammy Waddell dedicated her life to teaching children at three different elementary schools in the Forsyth County, Georgia, school district.

She was also a colon cancer survivor.

Then in August, she learned the disease had returned.

Two weeks before passing away, she decided that her funeral would be her final act of giving back to the children of Forsyth County. She let it be known that in lieu of flowers, she wanted backpacks full of school supplies for children in need brought to her funeral.

On June 9, she passed away at the age of 58, and three days later, her final wish was granted.


Over 100 backpacks full of school supplies were donated by her friends and family, many of which are teachers. The supplies will be distributed to children through the district’s Project Connect, an annual event where teachers deliver backpacks to the homes of their students.

“Tammy was a servant leader that loved children,” Jennifer Caracciolo, Forsyth County Schools spokesperson, told Today via email. “The generous backpack/supplies donations in her memory is a touching tribute.”

Waddell’s cousin, Brad Johnson, also offered a touching memorial:

“What made her special was that she truly loved and care for her students. As many said, she was ready to give a hug to a student in need, just like she was to give supplies to a student in need. She has inspired many people, including myself.”

Johnson’s picture of the backpacks lining the aisles of the church has been favorited thousands of times. “I think the pictures have gone viral because her story touches the soul of humanity,” Johnson said. “Her final lesson was to be of service to others. I would say her last lesson was well taught.”

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