Bethany Martin, a teaching assistant at Sequoyah Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is helping her kindergarten students — along with every student in the — put their best foot forward this Christmas with a brand new pair of shoes.
Martin made this decision when she saw a little boy wearing a shoe that had been “completely ripped apart.”
"There was a little boy in one of my classes whose shoe completely ripped apart and I had to duct tape it together,” Martin told KJRH.com. “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.”
Though it wasn't the first time she'd noticed a problem with a student's shoes.
"At the beginning of the school year, there was a little girl and her shoes... they were her only pair," Martin said. "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 okay 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."
In hopes of helping her students, Martin set one goal for herself — to buy each kindergartener in the school new footwear for Christmas. To prepare for her shopping trip, Martin quickly began measuring the feet of the students, without neglecting to ask them about their favorite colors and styles, of course. As you can imagine, just one class of kindergarteners equals a lot of children. Martin had promised to help more than 80 kids — which adds up to a lot of cash.
"It was such a big goal at first that I almost didn't even put it out there for anyone to know about it," Martin added. "I thought it was going to be impossible to reach."
In the beginning, her fundraising goals were small and her GoFundMe page had only raised $,1000 within the first few days. When local news outlets heard about her plan, however, her luck began to change. Today, Martin has raised more than $18,000. Surprised by the overwhelming response, Martin decided to spread her love a little further by gifting every student in the school with a new pair of shoes — that's 620 students.
"It will open the door for their families to spend their money on toys and Christmas presents, rather than having to worry about having to provide basic needs for their children," Martin explained. "The fact that there have been so many strangers that I will never meet donating to a kid that they will never meet is just the most amazing feeling."
If you'd like to help Martin reach her goal, visit her GoFundMe page.
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