School supply drive in honor of teacher killed by alligator is fetching donations from across the nation

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WJCL(HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.) -- When Cassandra "Sassie" Cline was killed by an alligator in South Carolina last month, her sister wanted to do something special to honor her life as a kindergarten teacher.

On her Facebook page, Kathy Reister wrote that she and her colleagues at the Hair Studio Six salon, in the small upstate New York town of Endwell, were collecting supplies for her sister's school, the George F. Johnson Elementary School in nearby Endicott.

Reister and her co-workers launched the school supply drive on Tuesday, and by Saturday, their salon was so full of classroom necessities there was no space left to walk around, one of Reister's co-workers, Megan Decker, told ABC News on Sunday.

"Sassie was a kindergarten teacher and every year she bought school supplies to help kids that couldn't afford them," Decker said. "It's been what we would consider kind of crazy. We've gotten a couple hundred backpacks, and markers, crayons, pencils, folders from all over the country."

School supplies, according to Decker, have poured in from as far away as Kentucky.

"People have been so supportive in donating because she was a teacher," said Decker, a former teacher.

On Saturday, friends, relatives, co-workers and students of Cline filled the Barber Memorial Home in Johnson City, New York, for a memorial service.

Cline, 45, was attacked by an alligator Aug. 20 as she walked her dog, Kylie, on a golf course at Sea Pines Plantation, a gated community on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where she and her husband own a home and had planned to retire.

She was killed when a 9-foot-2-inch alligator went after her dog and Cline responded by trying to protect her pet, officials said.

The alligator then attacked Cline, dragged her into a lagoon and pulled her under the water, officials said.

A greenskeeper at the golf course heard her screaming and saw her from afar in what he described as a "tug-of-war" with the alligator over Kylie's leash, said David Lucas, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

"She was just always happy and laughing," Cline's mother, Julia Meza, of Connecticut, told ABC News a day after her daughter was killed. "She would bend over backward to help someone. She'd give you the shirt off her back. She was a kind, generous and loving daughter, a good sister, a good wife."

Cline taught in the Union-Endicott Central School District for 16 years

"[Cline] was a dedicated teacher working with our youngest students in their first year of school," district officials said in the statement. "She was a sweet, kind individual who was respected by her colleagues and loved by her students and their families."

Decker said she and Cline's sister hope to deliver the school supplies to the school district on Sept. 10.

"At this point, my guess is that we have so many supplies that at the very least they're going to be spread throughout the entire district, not just her school," Decker said.

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