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Posted December 15, 2011

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Rio Grande Teacher’s Generosity Spreads to Wal-Mart Employees

What began as a teacher’s kind gesture toward a student snowballed into holiday spirit at its finest thanks to the generosity of a group of Wal-Mart employees.

Dale Pepke, the automotive teacher at Rio Grande High, noticed a student in his class never wore a coat to school, even when it was very cold outside. Pepke suspected the student couldn’t afford a coat, so he went to the Wal-Mart at Coors and Rio Bravo to buy him one.

While shopping, Pepke mentioned to a Wal-Mart employee why he was buying the coat, and she offered to help if there were more Rio Grande students in need. Pepke got the employee, Dorothy Urquidez, in touch with the school’s activities director, Jean Marie Baca, who came up with a list of nearly two dozen students who could use a winter coat.

Within a couple of days, Urquidez dropped off coats for all of the students as well as about a dozen pair of shoes. The coats and shoes were paid for by Wal-Mart employees.

“This was especially touching because it was individual employees at Wal-Mart who reached out to help us, not the corporation,” said Baca. “They probably don’t earn very high wages but nonetheless were so generous in reaching out to our students.

“On top of all that,” Baca continued, “Dorothy wrote me a letter to thank us for allowing them the opportunity to help our students!”

To show their appreciation, Baca will drop off Rio Grande t-shirts and other gear – “tokens of our gratitude” –  to the employees later this week.

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