A South Carolina elementary school teacher who works in a low-income neighborhood has vowed to buy a bicycle for all 650 students in the school for Christmas.
First grade teacher Katie Blomquist said she decided to raise the funds because she thinks the bikes will be the “best gift” the under-privileged students could get for Christmas.
“I literally think about it every day in my classroom, telling these kids that they’re going to get a new bike and how much they’re going to freak out,” she told ABC News.
Blomquist teaches in North Charleston at Pepperhill Elementary School, a Title 1 school that receives extra federal funding for its students, many of whom come from low-income families.
To the students, the bikes represent “pure, simple childhood joy,” Blomquist said, adding that she doesn’t want the kids to “miss out” on that quintessential experience.
“One hundred percent [of the kids] get free breakfast and free lunch,” Blomquist said. “It’s a high-need school, and many of our students work very hard but unfortunately are unable to have the basic childhood needs like a bike.”
Blomquist was inspired to gift every student with a bike after a child in her class, who didn’t have the “best” home life, told her he didn’t have one. The teacher had taken the student to Wal-Mart to pick out a toy as a birthday present, but he kept asking for the bike instead, which she couldn’t afford.
When Blomquist learned that the boy’s brother didn’t own a bike either, she created a GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $23,000 of the $65,000 goal so far. GoFundMe every contributed $10,000 to the cause.
GoFundMe Awards $10,000 to Pepperhill Elementary School in Back-to-School Fundraising Contest https://t.co/6fZHUVDMpv
— Desperate Mamas (@Desperate_Mamas) October 19, 2016
The entire school is overjoyed at Blomquist’s extraordinary good deed, said Pepperhill Elementary School Principal Tanya Underwood.
“I’m so thrilled that she’s doing this project,” Underwood said. “She does more than teach every day. “
Underwood added that the fact Blomquist expanded her goal to the whole school and not just her class “shows how much she loves her community.”
Other teachers at the school are doing their part by using social media to encourage people to donate to the cause.
Blomquist said she’s “not going to stop” fundraising “until every child gets a bike.”