Ellen: Las Vegas Whitney Elementary School New Library & Food Pantry


Ellen: Sherrie Gahn & Whitney Elementary School

Sherrie Gahn is principal of Whitney Elementary School, and this year she has become a friend of The Ellen Show. That’s because Ellen’s team heard her story about striving to help the underprivileged students in her school.

Ellen: New School Library

Target and Ellen surprised Whitney Elementary School students with a brand new, fully stocked library.


She said that this environment made her realize how much some students take for granted. She worked to make sure that the school’s students, most of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch, would receive basic necessities like clothing and backpacks.

Ellen: Justin Bieber Las Vegas School

In September 2011, Ellen and Target gave the school $100,000, to the delight of students everywhere. A month later, Justin Bieber threw in a matching donation of $100,000, along with a special acoustic performance.

While there, Justin Bieber surprised Sherrie and the students with an additional $100,000 in toys and gifts for kids. Then, in February 2012, the school received a $50,000 donation from Motorola for sports equipment.


Ellen: Target & Whitney School Library

But there was one more thing on Whitney Elementary School’s wish list. Its library didn’t have any books newer than 1999. Just think about how much has changed in the world since 1999. The back section of the library was actually flooding as of November 2011, when Target stepped up to donate a new library to the school.

Target pledged $200,000 in materials and equipment for the new school library. Now, in May 2012, Ellen sent Jeannie to the school for the library’s big reveal. She was standing by with Principal Sherrie Gahn and a group of Whitney Elementary School students.

Ellen: New Whitney Library Unveiled

Sherrie recalled visiting an affluent school eight years ago and feeling she could never give her students the opportunities that modern technology affords. But now she feels like the new library will help her school do that.

The wait was finally over, and Ellen sent the group to see their library for the very first time. They were overwhelmed before they even made it in the door, and the transformation was truly incredible.

“Thousands of new books. Brand new shelves, carpet, tables, chairs,” Ellen said as the group explored their bright and colorful new space. There were also several computers, a projector, and countless books. The kids and their principal were speechless and didn’t know what to explore first.

Ellen: Whitney Elementary School’s Big Year

Ellen also announced that every student at the school would get seven new books to take home and keep. She wondered what Sherri thinks about the amazing past year at her school.

“I just can’t thank you enough. The whole year’s been very surreal,” she said. “This library today brings hope. And more than just the space, it’s that hope that these children can do anything they want with their lives, and literacy is really the key.”

Ellen: WeTopia & Whitney School Food Pantry

Ellen called Sherri inspiring and amazing, and she had one last surprise for the school. Thanks to her partnership with the Facebook Game WeTopia, over 700,000 game players donated their game points to the school.

WeTopia is going to fund the food pantry for a full year, including summer and weekends, as well as providing a trained, full time employee to keep things running smoothly. Sherri said she has a mom in mind who would be perfect for the job.


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