When Covid brought the St. Louis community to a screeching halt in the spring of 2020, it was the essential workers who stepped up to make sure our world’s kept spinning. The ICU unit nurses, cheeks bruised from hours spent behind face shields and masks; The Shipt delivery drivers who kept our pantries stocked when most of us were too uncomfortable to venture inside a grocery store; and the teachers who pivoted on a dime to make sure “school” maintained some sense of normalcy for our kids, many of whom were too young to understand what a pandemic even was.
Whether they spent the 2020-2021 school year leading students in-person, online or both, the exhausting demands of Covid and virtual learning have taken their toll on our teachers. For May’s Art of Heart community outreach, we decided it was time to recognize and give back to those who have given so much. As Teacher Appreciation Week approached (May 3-7), we reached out into the south city community, eager to find local business owners who would join us in our effort.
By the Monday of Teacher Appreciation Week, we had assembled 78 gift bags for the teachers at Buder Elementary in Southampton, each one stuffed with goodies and gift certificates from STL Style, Espresso Yourself, Sister’s Sandwich Shoppe, Alpha Brewing, Urban Chestnut and Climb So iLL. The gifts, paired with a hot lunch from Global Quesadilla and a beautiful flower arrangement from Arranged by Andy, were delivered by our Art of Heart team on the morning of May 5.
As lunch hour arrived and teachers wandered out of their classrooms and into the hallway (aware only that there was a special surprise waiting for them), the excitement was palpable, even with their smiles cloaked behind masks.
We were able to spend about an hour inside Buder, chatting with teachers and administrators and expressing our sincere gratitude for their service to the Southampton community.
As our group walked toward the building’s exit, we overhead an administrator mention that she wished every teacher in the district could’ve received something as special; that due to a lack of resources many teachers receive little recognition during Teacher Appreciation Week. It was a poignant reminder that our teachers are often a forgotten (or, at least, under-appreciated) pillar of our community; that we, as parents, neighbors or even just friends, must do a better job of saying “thank you”, because the impact is far greater than we could ever imagine.
We’d like to extend our sincere appreciation to the local businesses who partnered with us in this month’s outreach event. To say “yes” to giving when most have already sacrificed so much truly speaks to the character of these business owners. If you have the ability to support any of the businesses mentioned above, please, please do so.