Teachers across the country spent more than $1.33 billion out-of-pocket collectively on school supplies, snacks and instructional materials during the 2009-10 school year, according to the National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA), a trade association for educational product companies.
Through its Teacher Rewards program, Walmart and Sam's Club locations nationwide are investing $4.5 million in teachers, providing 45,000 educators gift cards to help them offset the cost of classroom expenses.
"Walmart appreciates the impact teachers continue to make in our community," Brazil Walmart Assistant Manager Marvin Wells said. "We know our educators contribute not only their time, but also their money to ensure our students have a successful school year.
"The Teacher Rewards program is our way of saying thank you."
Through the program, which is in its third year, local Walmart stores, Distribution Centers and Sam's Club locations across the nation are eligible to select one local kindergarten through eighth-grade public school and provide $100 reward cards to 10 teachers from the selected school.
Winning teachers are able to use the funds to purchase items for their classrooms, such as paper, folders, binders, clipboards, pens, pencils, crayons and markers.
In 2010, Walmart and its Foundation gave more than $89 million to fund educational, health and children's programs to help students in communities across the country.