CHIPMAN, N.B. -- After years of collecting bread tags, a New Brunswick teacher has finally fulfilled her promise in memory of a student who died in a car accident.

R.J. Vail was a Grade 4 student at Coles Island School when he asked his teacher what a million looks like.

Susan Weaver didn’t know how to answer the eight-year-old boy’s question, so the pair decided they would collect one million of something so they could visualize it.

Vail brought a can of bread tags to school and, at the end of the school year, he made Weaver promise to keep collecting the tags.

That was in 1998.

Sadly, Vail was killed in a car accident in 2006, at the age of 16.

Weaver says she was still collecting bread tags, but she had only collected one or two bottles at that point.

Vail’s death gave her extra motivation to keep collecting -- now, in memory of the student who started the project.

In November, Weaver -- who now teaches at Chipman Elementary School -- was halfway to reaching her goal, having collected roughly 500,000 bread tags.

Eager to fulfil her promise to Vail, she started a Facebook page to spread the word, and provided a list of drop-off locations in New Brunswick.  

Soon, the small elementary school was inundated with cards, letters and notes from all over the country. Some contained a couple bread tags, while others contained thousands.

“There’s so many caring people in our province and in the Maritimes and, as Canadians, it makes me proud to live where I live,” says Weaver.

It was a unique black bread tag, which arrived last week, that marked a million tags, helping Weaver achieve her goal.

“It’s the only one of its kind in our collection, so we wanted to show you our one black bread tag that arrived,” said Weaver in a video posted to Facebook Monday morning. “We’re not sure who it’s from or what it was clipped onto.”

As for Vail’s family, they say they felt “overwhelmed” when they learned that Weaver had collected the millionth bread tag. They say they knew she would keep her promise.

“You don’t know what tomorrow promises, and I wish that my brother was here to meet my kids, I really do, but he’ll always live on in everybody, and every time someone sees a bread tag they’ll think of him,” says his sister, Kendra Vail.

Weaver hasn’t decided what to do with all the bread tags just yet. Right now, they will continue to be a math lesson for her students, and a reminder of how valuable a promise can be.

“There are 16 students that I have had in my classroom that are no longer here with us, so I hope that at least for those 16, that I’ve made a small difference in their world,” says Weaver.

Set to retire in six years, Weaver is already working on her next milestone – to build a computer pod so her students have computers to use.