Pee Dee school district reaps benefits of multi-million dollar donation

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - This week, the technology company Ripple donated $29 million to fund every educators' projects on Donors Choose, a donation website for teachers.

Florence One School District is one district that is reaping the benefits of the multi-million dollar donation.

The popular website helps teachers get classroom materials and fund projects through the help of donors from all over the world. In one single moment, all 77 Florence One School teachers' projects were fully funded Wednesday night, at a cost of approximately $36,329.

Valerie McElroy, a fourth-grade teacher at Greenwood  Elementary, has been using Donors Choose for years.

"Instead of having to go out and ask the parent to spend money to send in supplies, I write grants so that way it not only helps me, but also helps my students and my parents," McElroy said.

So far, 128 of McElroy's projects have been funded through the site. With the $29 million donation from Ripple, over 35,000 classroom requests on Donors Choose are now fully funded.

"We do have people that step in and fund like states, or fund cities, or fund, you know, certain areas, but to come through and fund every single project on Donors Choose it was just amazing," McElroy said.

Two of her latest projects are now funded. One is a rewards program for Greenwood Elementary, where students earn goodies for good behavior. The second is to help beautify the school by decorating rocks with words of kindness.

"My students have been working … on just showing kindness around - random acts of kindness - so walking around giving people a little note, and that's something that they look forward to do," McElroy said.

One of the biggest projects McElroy had filled was getting her students' laptops and headphones all donated from France.

"We're able to use a lot of digital, a lot of blended learning, teaching in my classrooms. That has been very beneficial with our state test coming online this year," McElroy said.

Ultimately, McElroy hopes the big donation makes other businesses realize that helping to enhance teaching ultimately helps to enhance a student's learning experience.

"I mean, we know the money is not there," McElroy said. "Our district does do as much as they can to get things in our hands, so now that you have this big company (that) has come through, we're hoping that other companies will come through and help out too."

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