WEST JORDAN (ABC4 Utah) – A Copper Hills teacher decided to use her wedding registry to collect donations for homeless students. Her request went viral and she’s collected $20,000 in three weeks from international donors.
Rickee Stewart said she was alerted to the problem at her high school after a graduation speech. “We found out at graduation last year that one of our graduating seniors had lived behind a convenience store for an entire year. That really spurred this entire idea that if we had things available a kid could anonymously take what they needed and at least get a little bit of help.”
Stewart then learned that there are over 100 students at Copper Hills High who are homeless. So instead of china and silverware, she and her fiance registered for shoes, tents and sleeping bags.
“We really didn’t need stuff, we were combining two households and were giving away all of this extra stuff so we thought, what if we help these kids instead?” Stewart explained.
She tried to print inserts for her invitations, “Before we could even get the proofs back, both registries were fully completed by complete strangers.”
In three weeks, Stewart raised over $20,000 in goods for her school and Jordan school district, and she’s not done yet. Donations have come in from Canada, the UK, the United Emirates, Uruguay, and all over the United States. One of the founders of Twitter has committed to match all donations.
Principal Todd Quarnberg is thrilled about the many new additions to the school food pantry. He said, “We’re supposed to educate kids but the job has become bigger than that because you can’t educate a kid when they’re hungry or have no place to go. People need to understand that in West Jordan we have kids who do sleep in sleeping bags.”
Jordan school district alone has 2,100 kids without homes and statewide there are more than 16,000. The district has tried to combat the problem with a food pantry in every school.
Stewart makes sure all of her students know that there is always help available. “They’re all down in the food pantry and any one of you can go down and get one. Period.”
To make a donation to Jordan School District, go to Ms. Stewart’s DonorsChoose page.
All districts in Utah deal with this problem. To donate to a specific district or school simply call and ask where they’d like their donations dropped off.