In a typical year, California teachers spend an average of $664 of their own money on classroom supplies, and with districts returning to in-person learning and some still accommodating virtual education, educators are facing a different set of expenses. Although districts provided laptops for educators, some teachers purchased office furniture, web cameras, specialty applications, and other equipment to facilitate lessons.

Knowing how much our teachers invest into the students’ education – sometimes dipping into their own pockets – we knew we had to help. So, we sent our Helpful Honda people to surprise a few lucky teachers with a very special, Random Act of Helpfulness, courtesy of your San Diego Honda Dealers.

First, we met Lemon Grove School District Art Teacher, Alyssa Navapanich. Nominator and Superintendent, Erica Balakian, described her as, “…an advocate for the arts and [she] brings boundless energy and joy to the students of Lemon Grove though her art instruction, and positive motivational style. We LOVE her!” Mrs. Navapanich provides art education across six schools in the Lemon Grove School District, which was recently awarded the California Arts Education Association’s 2021 Exemplary Visual Arts Program Award – all thanks to Mrs. Navapanich. On the day of her surprise, Mrs. Navapanich was told she would be taking a class photo in the auditorium, but instead, met our Helpful Honda Guys who revealed a donation of art supplies! She shared, “Wow! To be able to share my love of the arts, it’s been wonderful. Thank you.”

Next, we headed to Carlsbad to meet Mrs. Holland, a middle school Science Teacher and ASB Coordinator for Aviara Oaks Middle School. From her cool science projects – like throwing Barbie dolls off the second floor of the school to learn about gravity and trajectory, and having the class build their own roller coasters out of popsicle sticks and marbles – Mrs. Holland has also bought more school spirit and engagement among students as lead ASB Coordinator. In addition to what she does for the school, she also does so much for her community. Mrs. Holland has hosted sock drives, blanket drives, clothing and food drives, and encourage and incentivizes her students to do the same. How helpful, right? With her ASB students in the room, we rolled into her classroom with a donation of science projects, classroom and art supplies to further help her ASB students throw on big events for the school! She was shocked, sharing, “Oh my gosh. This is amazing!”

Our next surprise was very special to us. We surprised L.R. Green Elementary School teacher Mrs. Olivia Hannigan with a unique Random Act of Helpfulness. Mrs. Hannigan is the district teacher, specializing in the deaf, hard of hearing, and sign-language only students throughout the Escondido community. Mrs. Hannigan works endlessly, creating personalized lesson plans for her 10 students, ranging from Kindergarten to 5th grade, to ensure they have the best education possible. She integrates her students into the rest of the school by having her class put on plays, creatively using blacklight paint to help highlight their performances; brings in deaf (or sign-language capable) guests into her class to show her students that they have future career possibilities despite not being able to hear; works with her students families to help everyone communicate successfully, and does her best to create an inclusive, welcoming, and loving environment for her students. With the help of her colleagues, and close family and friends, and an interpreter to help us communicate the special surprise to her students, we surprised her class with donations including sign language books, magnetic sign language letters, dry-erase desks to ease with learning and writing, notebooks, art supplies, electronics, and even more black light paint for their upcoming performances. Mrs. Hannigan, after signing to her class what just happened and with tears in her eyes, stated, “It’s been hard. Sometimes there’s not a lot of funding; I have to buy things out of pocket. They deserve it, they deserve materials and stuff, it’s hard, I don’t know why I am crying, still! I’m just very thankful, they deserve everything. We’re a family.”

For our last surprise we headed into the workshop – or a wood shop class, rather! We headed to El Capitan High School in Lakeside, to surprise Industrial Technology teacher, Coach Joe Cota. Coach Cota is an alumni of El Capitan High School, and his goal as an educator is to expose his students to jobs and career paths that they can monetize in the future. He’s taken the time to connect with his students and provide life lessons and skills to further their careers after graduation; and has helped by establishing business and industry partnerships so his students have full access and support and potential networks for their future. So how much wood, could a wood shop teacher need, so his wood shop class could chop wood? Well, about $5,000 worth, actually, and that’s where we came in! We surprised Coach Cota with a shed-full of lumber so he can continue on various projects with his current and incoming students next semester! A shocked, and very surprised Coach Cota replied, “This is fantastic. I really appreciate it. The kids, they’ll love it.”

So, what’s next for us? What else: more Random Acts of Helpfulness! We’ll be back at the pumps surprising Veterans and Active Military with FREE GAS. It’s our way of saying, “Thank you for being helpful.” To find out when and where, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out where we’ll be next, and how you can ask for your own Random Act of Helpfulness.