TULSA, Okla. – An Oklahoma teaching assistant reached her goal and made Christmas a little brighter for 600 students.
Bethany Martin is a first-year teaching assistant at Sequoyah Elementary School and noticed several of her students struggling with one thing.
“At the beginning of the school year, there was a little girl and her shoes- they were her only pair,” Martin said earlier this year. “I saw that she wore them every day and eventually her toes just were sticking through them. I asked the teacher and I asked the parents if it would be OK if I went out and bought her a pair of shoes. I did that over the weekend and I was able to give them to her on Monday.”
However, Martin soon realized that it was a common problem for students in her class.
“There was a little boy in one of my classes whose shoe completely ripped apart and I had to duct tape it together and I asked him if there was any other shoes that he had at home that he could wear and he said he did not have any that fit,” she said.
Martin decided that she wanted to spread a little bit of love to all the families of her students.
She decided that she was going to buy each of her students a new pair of shoes for Christmas. She created a GoFundMe account, and soon realized that she could do a lot more than just buy shoes for her kindergarten students.
Instead, she decided to buy shoes for all 600 students in the school.
However, the donations kept coming.
“She accidentally got too much money,” Itzel Garrison, a first grader, told KJRH.
In fact, donations poured in from people across the country to the tune of almost $20,000.
“The craziest thing about it is we raised so much money over the last few weeks that we got enough shoes to provide… two and a half or three schools worth of shoes,” Martin said.
This week, Martin handed out the shoes to kids who were “beside themselves with excitement.”
Martin says the parents were just as excited about the kind gesture.
“She just had tears in her eyes and she wanted to hug me,” Martin recalled. “I never met her before. You could tell it really meant something to her family.”
Martin says she plans to work with other area schools to measure the students’ feet and provide them with new shoes with the leftover money.