In lieu of flowers, Tammy Waddell requested backpacks full of school supplies at her funeral.

By Meghan Overdeep
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Even after Tammy Waddell’s death, the lifelong Georgia educator still had one more lesson left to teach.

The beloved Forsyth County teacher died on June 9th at Northside Hospital-Forsyth following a prolonged battle with cancer. After decades spent touching the lives of local elementary students, Waddell has one last request: that instead of flowers, people bring backpacks full of school supplies for students in need.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that at her funeral on June 12, dozens of backpacks filled with school supplies lined the pews—a touching tribute to the final wishes of a dedicated teacher.

Waddell’s cousin, Dr. Brad Johnson, shared a moving photo of the church on Twitter.

“My cousin’s final request at her funeral was backpacks full of supplies for needy students instead of flowers,” he wrote alongside the now-viral snap. “A teacher to the end.”

Johnson added that approximately 100 teachers who had worked with Waddell over the years served as honorary pallbearers. Together they carried the backpacks out of the church.  He called the gesture “heartwarming.”

According to AJC, Waddell worked as a paraprofessional and a teacher at Sawnee Elementary, Cumming Elementary and Haw Creek Elementary in the Forsyth County school district. She was recognized as the Forsyth County Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2003.

The backpacks will reportedly be distributed through Project Connect, a local initiative to provide donated school supplies to students in need.

“Tammy was a servant leader that loved children,” Forsyth County Schools spokeswoman, Jennifer Caracciolo, said in a statement. “The generous donations in her memory are a touching tribute.”

WFAA reports that Johnson’s photo even reached an education organization in the United Kingdom which has committed to sending even more backpacks to Forsyth County in Tammy's honor.

If you'd like to help, please send backpacks filled with school supplies to the following address:

Project Connect

c/o Forsyth Central High School131 Almon C. Hill Drive

Cumming, GA 30040


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