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Escondido teacher and deaf students surprised by $5,000 in gifts

The Helpful Honda People revealed their "Random Act of Helpfulness" at L.R. Green Elementary.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Teacher Appreciation week is the gift that keeps on giving. In this Zevely Zone, I visited L.R. Green Elementary in Escondido where an inspirational teacher received a Random Act of Helpfulness from the Helpful Honda people. 

The team in blue has been all over the country showing their appreciation for teachers and may have saved the best for last. Teacher Olivia Hannigan was told she needed to take a class picture with her students, instead she and her deaf and hard of hearing students were surprised by $5,000 in classroom gifts.

"It's teacher appreciation week," said Helpful Honda team leader Lydell Carin. "I wasn't expecting this," said Olivia with tears streaming down her face. As her family members applauded, it wasn't until Mrs. Hannigan signed the good news to her deaf and hard of hearing students that they fully understood all the gifts were for them. T-shirts, books, speakers, an i-Pad and so much more.

Credit: CBS 8

"Everyone say thank you," said Olivia using sign language. "They deserve it, they deserve materials and stuff, it's hard, I don't know why I am crying still, sorry," said Olivia who was nominated by her sister.

Credit: CBS 8

Olivia's husband Joe is a Chula Vista Firefighter Paramedic. "She reacted just the way I thought she would react just immediate tears, this is a very welcome surprise, she has been very overwhelmed recently," said Joe. Olivia added, "My stress level lately has been really high, so I feel really bad to everyone I may have lashed out on , ha, ha, ha."

Credit: Olivia Hannigan

"All of our teachers work hard, incredibly hard, but Olivia is here six days a week," said Christine Lynch who is a sign language interpreter. Olivia often works 60 hours a week with students ages five to ten. "I am grades K through 5, there are so many levels of students and sometimes there is not a lot of funding, so I have to buy a lot out of my own pocket or ask for donations or whatever," said Olivia. "It's just really nice to get things for them because they need it and deserve it."

Credit: Olivia Hannigan

"I just love her to death," said Lorena Reynoso. She is a fellow teacher and Olivia's best friend. "I teach one grade level, I cannot imagine trying to teach all of those," said Lorena.  

The pile of gifts, also included art supplies and a special sign language carpet, and glow sticks for their annual Halloween Show. "She is here working hard every single day," said Christine. "Very dedicated teacher."

The pile of gifts included: Final Cut Pro, a 2-pack black light, a replacement cartridge for a portable air conditioner, an American Sign Language puzzle book, glow body paint, a heater/fan combo, deaf culture coloring book, a JBL speaker, and magnetic sign language letters.

RELATED: San Marcos family receives $5,000 Christmas surprise

"I am just very thankful, because they deserve everything too, this is for them. We are like a family in my room," said Olivia. "This is just really great, thank you guys for being here."

RELATED: Two teachers receive $5,000 surprise on Teacher Appreciation Day

This is the second year, the San Diego Honda Dealers have gathered submissions and selected four wonderful Teacher Appreciation Award winners to be surprised over Teacher Appreciation Week. 

According to a survey, teachers spent an average of $750 of their own money to purchase school supplies for their homes, classrooms, and students; and 30% of teachers spent $1,000 or more on school supplies each year.

RELATED: 'I love it, I love it' | This act of generosity brought amputee Dru Clarke to tears

The Helpful Honda people want to hear your stories and what you need help with, too! To request your own Random Act of Helpfulness, please visit SDHondadealers.com/help.

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