ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A schoolteacher from Raleigh, N.C., has helped raise more than $70,000 in just five days to feed the children of Ferguson, according to FeedTheStudents.org.
Julianna Mendelsohn, 33, started a Fundly campaign on Aug. 14 with the aim to raise $80,000 for the St Louis Area Foodbank. The teacher said she was driven by the fact that many children in the U.S. rely on school for their only meals.
"When I found out school had been canceled for several days as a result of the civil unrest, I immediately became worried for the students in households with food instability," Mendelsohn wrote on the site. "With school out, kids are undoubtedly going hungry."
Because of ongoing protests, officials for the Ferguson-Florissant School District announced Monday night they were pushing back the first day of classes to Aug. 25. School had been scheduled to start Aug. 14 for the more than 11,000 students in the district, which encompasses all or part of 11 communities.
Mendelsohn's online campaign raised more than $20,000 on its first day and has grown ever since with more than 2,500 donors contributing from as far away as New Zealand.
"Regardless of your opinion on the civil unrest in Ferguson, there is no need for innocent children to go hungry because of it," Mendelsohn wrote.
Mendelsohn has turned over the administration of the fundraising campaign to volunteers.
"I am bowing out of leading the charge in terms of the social media campaign and maintenance of all of this personally because I need to get back to my 'regular' life as a 5th Grade teacher at Mangum Elementary in Bahama, NC (GO EXPLORERS!)," she wrote. Mendelsohn said she had work to do to prepare her classroom for the upcoming school year and didn't have the time to keep administering the page.
"Myself, my husband and a friend were the only ones managing the social media and the e-mails and phone calls coming in and we're pooped! I literally JUST took the first shower I've taken in 48 hours!" she wrote.
Mendelsohn said the campaign has been "an amazing experience." She wrote that she has "more than accomplished my goal, and am amazed to have been a small part of what has been such a wonderful show of generosity and the amazing connective powers of social media."
The fund is directly linked to the St. Louis Area Foodbank and will keep accepting donations.