With continuous news coverage of violence in Ferguson, MS, a teacher far removed from the situation noticed something other than the rioting... children in need and students who weren't in school.
Julianna Mendelsohn, a 33-year-old fifth-grade teacher in Bahama, NC, was watching a recent television broadcast when she realized that many kids in the area weren’t attending school because of current conditions, thus weren’t receiving their routine meals. She decided she would find a way to help, though she didn’t have any personal connection to the tragedy.
“There are many kids who rely on school to provide them with lunch or breakfast,” Julianna tells Ellen’s Good News. “For some, it might be the only meal of the day, and so I knew that, with schools closed, they might be struggling. As a teacher, my first thought is always about the children involved in any tragic situation."
In the past, friends of Julianna have sent her crowdfunding pages for various campaigns, so she decided to set one up for the cause and post it on social media using the hashtag #FeedFerguson.
“I posted it on Twitter, not thinking it would be that big of a deal,” the teacher recalls. “I don’t have that many followers… at the time, only about a thousand.”
She did, however, have a few influential followers. In 10 hours, Julianna raised $15,000, and it snowballed from there. In less than a week, she's accrued over $98,000 from 3,200 people, surpassing her initial goal of $80,000, and the campaign is still going strong.
“It’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me,” Julianna says.
Incidentally, it is also her first day at a new job at Mangum Elementary in Bahama. Julianna says she’s having to turn over some of the fundraising opportunities to other people in order to focus on her own kids.
"Myself, my husband and a friend were the only ones managing the social media and the e-mails and phone calls coming in, and we're pooped! I literally JUST took the first shower I've taken in 48 hours!" she wrote on her page.
The money came in so quickly, Julianna wasn’t even sure what to do with it. Soon, she found a local food bank in St. Louis, which is helping to distribute the funds.
“The Internet happened!” Julianna jokes about her success story. “The power of social media is amazing.”
If you would like to donate to Julianna’s campaign, you can find more information here.