Office supply company surprises Sandy Springs students

Office Depot employees handed out free backpacks full of school supplies to Lake Forest students.
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 11:34 AM EDT
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SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. (CBS46) - The cafeteria at Lake Forest Elementary School felt more like a party venue Tuesday as a DJ played music and teachers danced in the aisles.

Students eagerly awaited a surprise from Office Depot. Their parents were already in on the secret, according to the school’s new principal Laryn Nelson.

“Parents were in total disbelief that, ‘I don’t have to buy school supplies this year? I don’t have to buy a bookbag?’ It’s a hundred percent like, ‘No, Office Depot has it,’” Nelson said.

Office Depot employees handed out free backpacks full of school supplies to each of the school’s 800 students as part of the company’s Start Proud!® program. Each student also got a $20 Office Depot gift card, thanks to support from Domtar Paper.

“It is amazing,” said Nelson. “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.”

Office Depot’s district sales manager Andrea Foster said the annual giveaway is “the right thing to do” and that it falls under the company’s pillar of empowering education and strengthening communities.

“This Title I school is amazing with the students,” said Foster, “and just being able to take that responsibility financially off their parents and being able to have everything that they need, it’s why we do it so that students feel confident and proud.”

Students aren’t the only ones who scored big. The principal randomly drew a teacher’s name out of a bucket.

“I told my coworker back there, I said, ‘If they call me, I’m going to be hopping around,” said fifth-grade teacher Ken Mitchell, who’s in his 28th year in education.

Sure enough, his name was drawn. He danced toward the stage, giving high fives to students as they cheered loudly. Mitchell won more than $1,500 worth of Office Depot items, including a new adjustable desk, Serta chair, a copier, and a laminator.

“It gets quite expensive being a teacher when you have to supply things for your own classroom, and so this will really help right here,” said Mitchell. “This is a great honor, and I’m just so lucky.”