TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Earlier this month in Bethany Martin’s kindergarten class, a little boy’s ragged old shoe literally ripped in half.
Sequoyah Elementary, a Title 1 school northeast of downtown Tulsa, has a donation closet for exactly this kind of emergency. But Martin couldn’t find the right size, so she pieced the shoe together with duct tape and sent the boy limping home.
“Do you have another pair to wear tomorrow?” she asked.
“No,” he said. “They’re all too small.”
Since joining Sequoyah’s staff as a teacher’s assistant this fall, Martin has found it an eye-opening and sometimes heart-wrenching experience. With 100 percent of the students classified as low-income, match scores are less than half the state’s average. Reading scores are even lower. And students often arrive in threadbare clothes that don’t fit.
Earlier in the semester, Martin used her own money to buy new shoes for a girl whose toes were sticking out of holes in some old sneakers.
“I got to thinking that for my birthday, instead of buying presents for me, I would ask all my friends to buy shoes,” Martin told the Tulsa World . “I thought maybe we could get enough money to buy a pair for everybody in class.”
Then she wavered.
“It seemed too big,” she says. “I thought, it’s never going to happen.”
But it took only a few days to raise enough cash to buy shoes not just for one class but for the whole kindergarten. Then Martin put the campaign on GoFundMe and, in just another few days, she had raised enough to buy shoes for every student at Sequoyah.
Now, with nearly $16,000 raised as of Nov. 16, she’s thinking about expanding the effort to other north Tulsa schools.
“My personal journey in recent years,” Martin says, “has been just to spread kindness every chance I get.”
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com
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