(TAMPA, Fla.) — When Matt Cameron and Kelli Davis got engaged in June 2018 and started planning their nuptials, she came up with an idea: In lieu of traditional wedding gifts, how about they do something for students in need?
Cameron was completely on board with Davis, a first-grade teacher at Roland Park K-8 Magnet School in Tampa, Florida, who took her husband’s last name when they married.
The couple set up an Amazon registry seeking school-supply donations and even customized their wedding invitations, requesting that guests bring a backpack filled with items like notebooks, pencils and uniforms. Each invitation was tailored to an individual student’s needs, including size, grade and gender.
“It wasn’t much different than going online and making a registry just for, you know, instead of crockpots, it was Sharpies and T-shirts and khaki shorts,” Cameron said in a video posted on Facebook by Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida.
“I call my class ‘my family,’ and I’m sure a lot of other teachers do too” she told ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa Bay. “It was kind of a no-brainer. Being a teacher, I know that a lot of kids come with nothing to school.”
She decided to donate the supplies to Booker T. Washington Elementary and the school gave the couple a list of ideas of what it needed.
On June 8, the couple were married in Florida.
At the end of the wedding, Kelli Cameron said, two or three large carts of backpacks and supplies bought from the couple’s registry had to be pushed out of the wedding venue.
“The back of my husband’s truck was completely filled with backpacks,” she said. “How wonderful it was that we were able to do that. Take something that was about us and kind of help others.”
The Hillsborough school district said the couple donated 70 backpacks filled with school supplies as well as uniforms to Booker T Washington Elementary.
“Congratulations Kelli, and thank you for your dedication and kindness. #weclimbtogether,” Hillsborough County Public Schools said in a Facebook post on July 25.
Cameron said that he wasn’t surprised that his new wife had come up with the idea and said he was proud of her.
“When we first had this idea, we could’ve never imagined it would’ve taken on a life of its own,” he told ABC News Friday.
Kelli Cameron got emotional in talking about how important it was for students to have the things they need when they start the school year.
“Being a teacher, I put my heart and soul into the kids and you try and give and give to them,” she said through tears. “The kids that get the backpacks will be excited for that first day of school and excited that they have a new backpack and new supplies and ready to start the school year.”
The backpacks will be distributed when school begins in a couple of weeks.
“We had such a positive response from our wedding guests and the community. School supplies have been donated to our doorstep. Businesses have reached out to donate backpacks to local schools so we’re really happy that all of this is happening,” she told ABC News Friday.
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