Ellen DeGeneres has donated $500,000 to Spain Elementary, a struggling school in Detroit, Michigan. The city and the district has been hard at work trying to fix the school’s many problems, from broken technology to fixing the roof. It’s being touted as “Ellen’s biggest most generous giveaway ever!,” and DeGeneres made the announcement on her show, reports CBS Detroit.
“At Spain Elementary School in Detroit, many of the students are poor or homeless. That is not their only obstacle,” DeGeneres said. “Almost all of their technology does not work, their entire roof is falling apart, their gym is completely shut down, forcing students to take PE in the hallways. Some of the students actually have to wear coats in the classroom because there is no heat. When I heard about this, I knew that I wanted to help.”
The students of Spain Elementary were all gathered together for an assembly, not knowing that Ellen DeGeneres would be speaking with them via a video screen. The children, of course, became excited and started cheering, with many of them holding up decorated signs. The $500,000 donation is part of Lowes’ Toolbox for Education program, which includes $50,000 for new computers and other technology from Lowes; $200,000 worth of materials and labor for roof work and other repairs; $250,000 donated to the school from Lowes and $100 Lowes gift card for each teacher and staff member of Spain Elementary. In addition to that, Ellen has set up a GoFundMe page for the school, with a goal of $5 million.
Ellen specifically asked for a teacher, Ellen Morgan, to step up front and as she did so, everyone cheered. DeGeneres noted that the teachers do not have books for their students and asked how they deal with that problem. Morgan went on to say that the teachers make copies of the books, but because that can get expensive, they have some of the parents help out. They will sometimes have parents of the students provide copies for them.
“But we do whatever we need to do, we don’t complain, we just do it because we love our babies!,” Ellen Morgan excitedly shouted, garnering more cheers from the students. Another Spain Elementary staff member, Kelly, was also called up to speak with Ellen. DeGeneres noted that the students have to wear their coats in the classrooms because the school does not have a sufficient heating system, and asked how the teachers do their jobs in that condition.
“I make my focus about my students being engaged, enthusiastic and wanting to learn,” Kelly said. “Keeping smiles on their faces, we get up and move around. And their passion for learning increases my passion for teaching.” Ellen DeGeneres then finally revealed that Lowe’s would be giving every teacher and staff member a $100 gift card, and went through each donation Lowe’s made, while the students cheered all throughout.
Kris Johnson, a mother of one of the fourth graders, was so incredibly happy hearing this news.
“Thank you! Thank you! Oh my God, I love Spain,” Johnson said. “I did not want to take my son out. He has sickle cell anemia, and I heard about all the conditions and stuff…I’m sorry, I’m crying, I’m crying.”
But Ellen DeGeneres had one more trick up her sleeve, for the audience of her show. Just behind one of the chairs, Justin Bieber popped up out of a box and hugged Ellen, with everyone screaming in joy. Justin took time out of his busy schedule preparing for a tour and revealed that for every ticket that is purchased for his tour, $1 will be donated to Spain Elementary in Detroit.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]