Honoring teachers for their service to community, a national retailer gave back Thursday to some of its valued Killeen customers.

The Killeen Walmart chose nearby Manor Middle School for an annual gifting, providing $50 gift cards and gift baskets to 20 teachers and a large cake for the whole staff.

Led by Manor principal Jennifer Washington, a group of managers from the local store made stops in classrooms throughout the school to give the surprise gifts.

At each classroom stop, Walmart assistant manager Bo Malone explained to the surprised teacher that the retailer was giving out $4.5 million in gift cards to about 90,000 teachers nationwide.

The gifts, he said, were the store’s way of saying thanks and acknowledging that teachers spend money out of their own pockets every year for supplies to benefit students.

“It was an overwhelmingly wonderful experience,” said Washington of the unexpected gifts.

At many stops, students, realizing their teacher was receiving an award, broke out in applause.

In one class, teacher Melissa Gonzales thanked the Walmart managers and then invited some of her students to share what they had learned recently about interviewing skills.

Teacher Takia Dill might have been as expressive as any of the teachers.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “We do a lot and we do spend a lot on supplies,” she said, noting that as the school’s cheerleader sponsor she was aware of money spent for concession sales.

“The store is close to the school and some teachers like to give prizes for kids. This is wonderful,” she said.

Yesenia Donnell, Walmart training coordinator, said it was a joy to see the teachers’ response to the gifts.

“We love coming here knowing we’re giving to the community and knowing they will be giving a lot of what they buy to students,” she said. “Sometimes teachers go without appreciation. We like to be able to help with their costs.”

“It made my day to see the looks on the teachers’ faces,” Washington said. “It was a well-received surprise and the cake was the icing that all will enjoy.”

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