Samierra Jones couldn't bear to see the young students at her city schools struggle through their classes in freezing temperatures – so she took to social media with a plea for help.
Jones, who is a senior at Coppin State University and a graduate of the Baltimore City Public School system, is no stranger to the chilling conditions of city classrooms. Because the district's school buildings are already lacking adequate heating systems, this month's harsh east coast weather conditions forced students to stay bundled up throughout the school day.
"Students are still required to attend classes that are freezing and expected to wear their coats to assist in keeping them warm," says Jones. "How can you teach a child in these conditions?"
Jones created a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising enough money to buy at least 600 space heaters and supplemental winter clothing for the children. When the campaign went viral, however, strangers from around the world donated over $80,000 – four times the original goal.
Dozens of locals who saw the page went one step further and donated bags full of coats, gloves, hats, socks, and scarves. Others shipped boxes of additional supplies, such as water bottles, hand wipes, cups, and tissues to the schools.
Much of the campaign's success is thanks to former NFL linebacker and Baltimore native Aaron Maybin. The 29-year-old athlete spurred thousands of social media followers to donate to the cause after he posted a heart-wrenching video of a dozen students sitting together in a chilly Maryland classroom.
Since the video started being shared on the internet, Maybin worked tirelessly alongside Jones to collect and receive donations at drop-off locations across the city.
The volunteers are currently collaborating with city teachers to distribute space heaters and outerwear to the classrooms that need it most. Additionally, the campaign has raised awareness of the school's shoddy infrastructure so that city officials are being pushed to improve classroom conditions.
"It is the responsibility of the school board to make sure that funds [are] allocated for resources such as boilers, infrastructure, and such," says Jones. "And this campaign has brought the right amount of attention to this issue to the point where there is pressure on those who are held accountable for funding and project management."
Maybin tweeted: "While our policy makers have been talking and pointing fingers, the people are mobilizing & taking action. And the world is finally taking notice…"
Warm The Hearts Of Your Friends: Click To Share – OR, (Photo by Samierra Jones)