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jennifer garner, teacher school supplies, erin fuller-wellman

Jennifer Garner in 2010.

It’s back-to-school time for a lot of folks in America and that means getting the kids ready for another year in the classroom. For teachers, it often means forking out a lot of their own money to give the kids in their class the tools necessary to learn.

A 2018 study found that 94% of teachers spend their own money to stock their classrooms. The average teacher spends $479 and 7% of teachers spend more than $1,000. This comes at a time when, in inflation-adjusted terms, teacher salaries have declined by almost 4% over the past decade.

According to Newsweek, this unnecessary burden placed on teachers inspired entrepreneur Erin Foster, who has more than 600,000 followers on Instagram, to put out a story linking to teachers’ Amazon wishlists.

Erin Fuller-Wellman, a first grade teacher at Buffalo Elementary School in Wayne County, West Virginia, needed books for her classroom so she posted her wishlist on Foster’s “Clear the Lists” and Facebook, but she never believed the response she’d receive.


"The CRAZIEST thing just happened to me," Erin Fuller-Wellman posted on Facebook. "I go outside to see literally 10 boxes laying on my porch. I open the first box and it's full of books. I think, ‘I wonder who sent these?’ At the bottom, there's a note, ‘Here is to your best year, yet! Thank you for choosing to teach, you have the most important job in the world from @jennifer.garner.’ My jaw literally dropped. Every box after was from her."

Fuller-Wellman believes that Garner saw her list on Foster’s post and sent her some books because the actress knows how difficult life can be in West Virginia. Garner was born in Houston, Texas, but moved to Charleston, West Virginia, at the age of 3.

“When I saw the first note, saying it was from her, my jaw dropped and I thought I was imagining it,” she told Newsweek.

Garner has in the past spoken out about the importance of teachers. Last year, at the start of the school year, she shared her support for teachers at a time when COVID-19 was making their profession even more challenging.

“Thank you teachers, thank you administrators, thank you school staff — for being on the receiving end of a year and a half of feelings (kids’ and parents’) — big and loud, quiet and deep,” she wrote.

Garner’s donation to the teacher was a fantastic show of support for the people with the most important job in the world. It was also a savvy move in the social media age. She has to know that word would get out (we’re writing about it!) and it would inspire others to help teachers as well.

The actress has spoken out about the challenges that rural kids in West Virginia face so that’s probably a big reason why she chose to help Fuller-Wellman. Garner didn’t grow up impoverished, but she saw it all around growing up in West Virginia.

“We were surrounded by generational world poverty, so when I suddenly found myself with a little bit of a voice, I just said ‘who was helping kids in rural America?’” she said on Kerry Washington’s “Street You Grew Up On” show. “Who’s giving them a leg up in West Virginia or Mississippi or South Carolina?”

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