Teacher Requests Backpacks Filled With School Supplies Instead of Flowers at Her Funeral—Students Heartwarmingly Deliver

By: Stephen Thompson | Last updated: Oct 17, 2023

Tammy Waddell, a Georgia teacher, has moved the hearts of many during and after her time on Earth.

The beloved 58-year-old teacher – who passed away June 9th, 2018, after losing a battle to stomach cancer – made a final wish that touched the hearts of many.

A Passionate Educator

Tammy was a teacher for 30 years, instructing at Sawnee Elementary & Primary Schools, Haw Creek Elementary School, and Cumming Elementary School. She was passionate about literacy, and believed every child should be educated.


Source: Upworthy/Instagram

Her dying wish asked that those coming to pay their respects bring school items for students in need. Her obituary proposed that instead of flowers, people should make donations in her memory to Project Connect, a local organization that gives backpacks to students who need them.


An Inspiration to All

Touching photos of backpacks lined up by pews in the church during her funeral were posted on Twitter by Tammy’s cousin, Brad Johnson, and went viral. “She was the kind of teacher that always looked out for her students. She was an inspiration in everything I have accomplished,” Brad said. He is also an educator.


Source: TammyMeadowsWaddell/Facebook

Tammy’s son Kevin was also inspired by his mother and followed in her footsteps by becoming a teacher.

Waddell’s Lasting Legacy

“It was no surprise to see what her final wish was. One of the things I loved about her was her passion as a teacher,” Kevin said.


Source: BradJohnson/Twitter

“The viral tweets have motivated lots of people across the world to offer to donate backpacks to honor her. The message she would try to pass across at this point is to donate to your local schools. It doesn’t have to be here, specifically,” said Kevin.

Receiving Well-Deserved Recognition

Tammy was named elementary teacher of the year in the county. A nonprofit organization that gives help to teachers across the globe, Tes Resources, told Brad it wanted to honor her. Tes Resources informed him that it wanted to donate thousands of school supplies to Forsyth County students.


Source: TesResources/Twitter

Many other people donated things to honor Tammy’s passion for children. “Even in death, she’s still teaching all of us,” said Brad. Tammy is survived by her husband, another son, BJ Waddell, and four grandchildren.