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More than 600 shoes given to students at Sequoyah Elementary

Posted: 6:19 PM, Dec 14, 2017
Updated: 2017-12-15 00:49:37Z

TULSA -- Hundreds of pairs of shoes were handed out at Sequoyah Elementary in north Tulsa on Thursday. 

It was made possible by first-year kindergarten teacher's aid Bethany Martin. 

Martin noticed some of her students shoes had holes and were being held together by tape. She started a GoFundMe page  to buy a new pair of shoes for every student in kindergarten, which is less than 100 students. 

As the money poured in, she raised her goal to include the whole school, which is more than 600 children. The money kept coming in, growing bigger than she ever imagined. 

"She accidentally got too much money," Itzel Garrison, a first grader at Sequoyah, said. 

Martin did "accidentally" raise almost $20,000. It came from people across the U.S., mostly from people she does not know. 

"The craziest thing about it is we raised so much money over the last few weeks that we got enough shoes to provide... two and a half or three schools worth of shoes," Martin said. 

When Garrison saw the stacks of shoes sitting in the school's auditorium lined up and ready to be handed out on Thursday, she took a guess at how many Martin had. 

"Ten-thousand," Garrison guessed while looking at the shoes.

Not quite. Instead, Martin has about 1,300 pairs of shoes. 

She worked closely with Metro Shoe Warehouse's nonprofit to purchase the shoes and get them ready for a smooth hand off to the students. Martin said the nonprofit spent about 18 hours sorting the kicks. 

Martin said while she handed out shoes, the kids smiling faces made the work leading up to this day all worth it. 

"They are just beside themselves with excitement, squealing, smiling the whole time," Martin said. "It's been the best day ever." 

The shoes were all different sizes and colors, some lit up when the students walked. 

A first grade class made a pact to all wear them on Friday. 

"Now [my classmates] are like 'Kamarion, tomorrow let's all wear these,' so I'm like "O.K. I'll remember so we can all be twins,'" first grader Kamarion Walker said. "All the girls can be twins and all the boys can be twins." 

The parents were just as happy as the students. Martin said she ran into one mother in the carpool line who was overwhelmed by Martin's kindness.

"She just had tears in her eyes and she wanted to hug me," Martin recalled. "I never met her before. You could tell it really meant something to her family." 

The teacher's aid called this one of the most special moments during this journey. 

Martin said she plans to work with other schools in the Tulsa district after the Christmas holiday to measure the students feet and provide them with shoes as well.