Viral TikTok video helps teacher raise lunch fees for students
Viral TikTok video helps teacher raise lunch fees for students Image Credit: Screengrab from video by @cgj205/TikTok

A heartwarming TikTok video of an American teacher from Utah is going viral after he used the social media app to raise funds to pay off the outstanding lunch fees not just for students of his school, but also from other schools in the district.

When he saw that his students were unable to focus in class due to hunger, Garret Jones, a teacher at Rocky Mountain Middle School, a public school in the US state, took to TikTok to create a short video on January 31. He asked viewers for help in paying the outstanding lunch fees of the students in his school with a simple request.

Jones had seen an existing viral TikTok trend in which users would request followers to pay them one dollar to raise money for things like a Disney World trip, their dream car, or other fun things. That was when he thought, he could use the same trend for something more useful.

“If 2,673 people venmo’d me one dollar (Dh3.67), I could pay the outstanding lunch fees for every student in my school, because the last thing a kid should be worrying about is how much they owe for meals at a place they’re legally obligated to be,” he wrote on his video.

“Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry and don’t deserve to be handed a bill for lunch at a place they have to be. School lunch should be free,” he added in the caption.

The video went viral with many people saying that this was the only version of the trend that they liked.

Just a few hours after he posted this video, he had already received $2,000 (Dh7,346) in donations and three hours later, the amount had gone up to $5,000 (Dh18,365).

In an update he posted on February 2, he showed that he had already received over $21,000 (Dh77,135) on Venmo (a digital wallet app), and another $150 (Dh551) on another wallet called Cash app.

Jones said this was well over the amount for overdue lunch balances at his school, which ended up being around $8,400 (Dh30,854).

Jones in another video updated that he was working with his school’s district administration to use the extra money to pay off students’ overdue lunch money in other schools in the district.

The teacher added that he never expected the video to go viral, he also knows that a lot of kids need the money.

In the comments, some people said they related to their video as sometimes they wouldn’t queue up for lunch, because they knew they had an overdue balance and didn’t want to put that pressure on their parents.

“It’s definitely opened my eyes to the power that social media has,” Jones added.

TikTok users praised Jones for going out of his way to help the children.

TikToker @Justamy86 wrote: “…bless you. I often owed as a child and was denied lunch because of it.”

And, @tiffanyml18 replied: “This is absolutely so beautiful and pure. Thank you for helping the kids that need this.”