Heber City, UT (ABC4) — A teacher at Rocky Mountain Middle School, Garret Jones, created a viral TikTok video where he asked the public for help in paying the outstanding lunch fees of the students in his school.
In the original video, he said that if 2,673 people venmo’d him one dollar, he could pay the lunch fees for the students in his school. He has already made $25,000 as of Thursday, Feb 2.
“The last thing a kid should be worrying about is how much they owe for meals at a place they’re legally obligated to be,” Jones said.
Jones saw the trend on TikTok in which users were saying if X amount of followers pay them $1 they could raise money for Disney World, a dream car, or other fun things. That was when he thought he could use the trend to help raise money for his students.
“It just made me think, ‘What can we do that’s good with that trend?’,” Jones said.
Just a few hours after he posted this video, he had already received $2,000 in donations. Just three hours after he posted it, it had gone up to $5,000, and just two days later, the amount went over $25,000. Jones said this was well over the amount for overdue lunch balances at his school, which ended up being around $8,400.
Jones and the Wasatch School District administration are working on a plan to use the extra money to pay off students’ overdue lunch money in other schools in the district.
They are going to set up an account through an existing educational foundation for the district, and the money will go into that account. After that, the funds will be dispersed to where they will be the most beneficial.
While Jones said he never expected this to go viral, he also knows that a lot of kids need the money. In the comments, people said they knew how the kids at his school felt, that sometimes they wouldn’t go in line because they knew they had a balance and didn’t want to put that on their parents.
“It’s definitely opened my eyes to the power that social media has,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of rough stuff going on, but there’s good in it too.”