backpacks at funeral
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
March 18, 2020 ·  2 min read

Teacher’s Dying Wish: Backpacks Full of Supplies Instead of Flowers at Her Funeral

Going through cancer is tough on everyone involved, in particular the person who is suffering from the illness. When the disease reaches the terminal phase, the sick person is most concerned about making sure their loved ones will be taken care of when they are gone. Rarely are they thinking about the well-being of people that they do not know and will never meet.

This is not the case for elementary school teacher Tammy Waddell.

A teacher to the end

On June 9th, 2018, Tammy Weddell passed away from cancer at the age of 58 after 30 years of teaching elementary school in Forsyth County, Georgia. (2)

Surrounded by family, she had one final wish: Instead of people buying flowers at her funeral, she requested that each person bring a backpack filled with school supplies. (1, 2)

Her wish was granted, and her family members posted some incredible photos from the service with the stage and aisle lined with full-to-bursting backpacks. Lined up outside the service where many of the teachers that Tammy had spent her career working alongside, each with a full backpack of their own. Tammy’s cousin referred to them on twitter as “honorary pallbearers”. (1)

A true angel on earth.

To say that she was dedicated to her students is an understatement: Tammy was a National Board Certified teacher and Forsyth County Teacher of the Year in 2003. (2)

Having taught at three different schools in the region, she was known as a selfless teacher who was always there to support her colleagues and her students alike. (2)

Tammy was also a member of the Rainbow Girls, a philanthropic sorority for girls aged 10-20 that helps girls grow up to be confident, self-sufficient young women. (3)

She was also a volunteer firefighter with the Forsyth County Volunteer Fire Department Four Ladies Auxiliary (2)

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A legacy that will love on.

Those backpacks will provide underprivileged children with the supplies they need to go to school, ultimately helping to end the cycle of poverty and allow them to fulfill their potential as successful adults.

For those who were not able to attend the service or donate a backpack, the family asked for them to make a donation to Project Connect at Forsyth Central Highschool.

If you would like to make a donation, use the information below:

Project Connect

c/o Forsyth Central High School

131 Almon C. Hill Drive

Cumming, GA 30040

Let’s help Tammy’s legacy of love and compassion live on!

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