Nov. 20, 2018 - It all started with a casual conversation during class. Chatting about the weather, Jasmine Lewis, middle school social studies teacher at Bridge to Success Academy at West Jacksonville, realized something was terribly wrong.
She had casually asked her kids if they were ready for the incoming cool weather. Expecting positive responses, she was surprised by the chorus of “no” and soon learned why.
Most of her 60 students walk, bike or take public transportation to school every day, Lewis said. And most of them, she learned, did not have adequate winter attire.
That's when she took matters into her own hands. Ms. Lewis went onto her personal Facebook page and created a fundraiser to provide her students with brand-new winter coats.
"I thought 'Maybe we can band together and get these babies some coats," Lewis said.
The amount of support she received through friends, family members and even strangers was staggering. In just two and a half weeks, Lewis raised enough money to buy 70 brand-new winter coats for her students.
"I want my students to know they can rely on the community just like the community will rely on them in paying it forward," said Lewis. "You don't have to know a person to help them."
Lewis said she has already seen her students paying it forward. Several of them gave their new coats to their siblings. This gave Lewis an opportunity to order more coats and share with her students how generosity begets generosity.