Ypsilanti-area art teacher Rachel Spall stocks up on hand sanitizer at Blake's Cider Mill in Armada Wednesday
Ypsilanti-area art teacher Rachel Spall stocks up on hand sanitizer at Blake's Cider Mill in Armada Wednesday

Similar giveaways and discounts for teachers are around the corner from Meijer, Kleenex and Michigan First Credit Union. We’ve got your list.

MICHIGAN — Ahead of this school year, teachers in every subject are gathering new kinds of supplies for their classrooms, like face masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies. To aid their efforts and slow the spread of COVID-19 in schools, some businesses throughout the state are pitching in. 

One of those businesses is Blake’s Farms in Armada, whose Teachers Appreciation Giveaway from Aug. 24-26 saw lines of teachers wrapped around the side of the building waiting to claim their free gallon of Blake’s hand sanitizer (in addition to a free donut and cup of sweet apple cider to top it off). 

Blake’s Farms is using its craft hard cider distillery to produce hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re unable to make the drive to Armada like the teachers that showed up for the giveaway, fear not: The gallons are available to ship throughout Michigan.

Teachers Line Up for Blake’s ‘Liquid Gold’

Blake’s Farms, a family-owned and -operated cider mill and orchard that’s served Metro Detroit since 1946, announced their Teachers Appreciation Giveaway on their Facebook page on Aug. 20 to much excitement. The comments lit up with hundreds of fans tagging their teacher friends — and those teachers showed on the big days.  

One cider mill employee said the first day of the giveaway was especially “crazy” as scads of teachers jumped at the chance to receive a gallon of Blake’s home-distilled sanitizer, which normally run for $30 each. Still, employees kept the mill at strict 50% capacity in accordance with state guidelines, and teachers rocked face masks up and down long lines wrapped around the building. 

And Elena Dinverno, Blake’s marketing director, said they remained steadily busy with the giveaway over the next two days. They received great feedback from teachers, she said, some of whom drove hours to reach the mill. 

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“We’ve had teachers from Grand Rapids, Port Huron, all over,” Dinverno said. “We know they have an important job to do. School supplies are limited, and hand sanitizer is a needed supply.” 

Dinverno said Blake’s began producing hand sanitizer at their craft hard cider distillery around the time the coronavirus hit Michigan. 

“We wanted to help the community and have the equipment to do so,” Dinverno told IndyStar in April. While their original intent was to help meet hospitals’ demand for hand sanitizer, Blake’s recent Teachers Appreciation Giveaway helped fill another crucial need as some teachers and students across the state prepare to return to in-person learning in just a couple short weeks. 

“Look at our company as a whole,” Dinverno said. “Farms have always been a very giving community.” Indeed, Blake’s history of charitable giving and partnering with nonprofits stretches back many years.

Arbor Preparatory High School art teacher Rachel Spall, masked up, picks her gallon of sanitizer from the well-stocked display.

What Does a Gallon of Sanitizer Mean to Teachers? 

Rachel Spall, an art teacher at Arbor Preparatory High School in Ypsilanti, claimed her free gallon of sanitizer on Wednesday ahead of her first week of inservice. She also picked up a smaller spray bottle of sanitizer to refill as her students enter the classroom once per week when Arbor Prep’s hybrid online/in-person school year starts Sept. 8. 

“It’s a super nice gesture on the part of [Blake’s], and it was worth coming up here — not just for the sanitizer,” said Spall, who drove an hour and a half to Armada (and also purchased a peach pie for her own kids in 8th and 9th grade, who will attend all their classes remotely this year).  

SEE ALSO: WATCH: Why Some Michigan Cities Were Unprepared for In-Person Voters

She talked to The ’Gander about the new kinds of supplies teachers will need this year, including things like hand sanitizer, but also streaming equipment, subscriptions to online services, and much more to think of ahead of time. 

To have one thing ticked off her list, she said, was satisfying. 

“Since teachers have been dubbed essential workers, I’m sure other perks will come our way like the sanitizer. That’s purely speculation,” she said. “But it’s satisfying to know that the work teachers do is appreciated by the community, particularly during this current COVID craziness.” 

More Drawings, Discounts, and Giveaways 

If you’re a teacher or you know a teacher who’s still gathering supplies for school in the time of coronavirus, we’ve got some leads on giveaways and discounts for you. 

  • Michigan First Credit Union is entering teachers to win a $300 gift card to put toward supplies for their classroom. Contest ends Aug. 28. 
  • Nominate a deserving Michigan teacher through Kleenex’s Thank a Teacher Giveaway for a chance to win a $500 Meijer gift card to meet their back-to-school needs. Contest ends Aug. 31. 
  • Meijer is offering a 15% discount for teachers on classroom essentials through Sept. 28 by presenting a current school ID at their local Meijer Customer Service desk. 

Keep sniffing around on social media for more teacher giveaways around the state over the next few weeks, ’Ganders — they’re popping up everywhere as more and more answer the call to support teachers and students through COVID-19 and beyond. 

UPDATE: Blake’s announced on their IG that 3,273 school personnel visited them for the giveaway.