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WEST JORDAN — High school teacher Rickee Stewart is getting married next month. But the wedding gifts on her registry aren't dishes or glasses.
"I registered for tennis shoes and Converse and backpacks and winter coats for the homeless kids at our school," she said.
Stewart was shocked to learn about more than 100 homeless students at Copper Hills High School when the school set up a food pantry.
"One of my students walked up very quietly and said, 'So, my mom wants to know how I can actually get some of that food,' Stewart said as her voice cracked. "It's very real."
So Stewart sent out wedding invitations with an insert offering guests the option, in lieu of gifts, to donate to her homeless student project.
The donations came in so quickly, her funding goal was met before she even mailed out all the invites.
A second insert card went into the invitations asking guests to donate to a Donors Choose fund that would provide coats and tents for students throughout the Jordan School District.
Donations are again coming in from New York, California, and even from people not on the guest list.
"It's not me, it's pure kindness of strangers," Stewart marveled.
It's taught her a lesson on the best of people. And it has inspired her to work this into her business and finance class curriculum. Stewart will encourage retail students to learn how to arrange the pantry food in an appealing way. Finance students will learn to donate to charity on a budget.
Each day when the delivery drivers drop off boxes of donations, Stewart has no regret the boxes don't contain plates or silverware.
"Oh no, no, no. This is exactly what we wanted," she said. "My hope is that we get to not only have this amazing wedding and start our lives together but that we are able to put some warmth on all of those kids."
To donate to Rickee's "wedding fund" via donarschoose.org, click here.