Surprise Squad gifts Arizona teachers new school supplies for upcoming year

Sponsored by Valley Toyota Dealers
Many teachers use their own money to purchase supplies, and Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad wanted to help them.
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 8:00 AM MST|Updated: Jul. 29, 2022 at 12:18 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The new school year has already started in some Arizona districts, and teachers are getting their classrooms ready across the state. Many use their own money to purchase supplies, and Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad wanted to help them.

Ian Schwartz and the crew went to Treasures 4 Teachers in Tempe. The store sells all kinds of school supplies at cut-rate prices, making it a popular destination for teachers. Some even come from out of state to get the deals. “It’s definitely difficult as a teacher to be able to afford the supplies that I want for my scholars,” Antonia Nash told Schwartz. She teaches 2nd grade at Garfield Elementary School in downtown Phoenix.

She wanted to get an electronic globe, and even though its original price had been reduced, it was still too much for her budget. So when Schwartz spotted Antonia checking out at the register, he came up behind her with the globe in his arms. “Actually, we’re going to add one more thing,” he informed the clerk at the register. “We’re with Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad, and with the help of your Valley Toyota Dealers, we’re going to be paying for everything here today.”

Schwartz struck up a conversation with a young woman named Erica Welch. She’s a new 1st-grade teacher in the Washington Elementary School District and was picking up a few supplies for her classroom. Schwartz told her to get an empty cart and fill it up. The Surprise Squad would pay for it all.

“I see you’re getting a little emotional,” he said to Erica as tears welled up in her eyes. “Why?” asked Schwartz. “I mean, it’s just a big impact. Not only for me but for my future students,” Erica replied.

Schwartz continued moving about the store, talking to the different teachers. In some cases, he paid for their supplies when they checked out. For others, he gave them $200 gift cards and told them to use them however they saw fit.

As the crew started to wrap things up, Schwartz still had three gift cards that hadn’t been used. So he found Barb Blalock, the founder of Treasures 4 Teachers. “We wanted to give them to someone we know would spend them efficiently, and you are that person. So here’s three, spread the wealth if you see some teachers who need some help,” said Schwartz.

“I get to be a Surprise Squad person,” Barb said with a big smile. “Oh my gosh!” Schwartz hugged Barb and said, “You’re part of Arizona’s Family now.”