HEBER CITY, Utah - A Utah middle school teacher has used the power of TikTok trends to raise more than $31,000 for students who owe lunch debt in his district.Garrett Jones, who teaches seventh and eighth graders in Heber City, Utah, said it all started when he noticed the TikTok trend of people saying, "If someone would Venmo me a dollar I could ________.""A lot of it was like, ‘pay for my wedding,' ‘take my kids to Disneyland,' ‘take six months off of work,'" he told FOX TV Stations in an interview. READ MORE: Family raises over $250,000 for pizza delivery worker who fell on their porchJones, however, asked his followers for $1 donations to pay the outstanding lunch fees for every student at his 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," his video said."I kind of did it as a joke at first. I just thought it would be cool to put a more meaningful or positive spin on that trend," Jones recalled.When he first had the idea, Jones thought he could raise "$200 or $300 and maybe be able to help a couple of students.""I’d be thrilled with that, just helping a couple," he said.Rocky Mountain Middle School teacher Garrett Jones and his broadcasting class (Garrett Jones) But Jones’ plea resonated with people — by the thousands — and quickly took off.
In all, he’s raised $31,000, mostly from $1, $2 and $5 donations. Jones is hopeful it’s enough to make a big dent in the overall balance district wide."Based on the comments I got, a lot of people identified with that kid who owes money," he said.
"They were saying things like, ‘This was me. Thank you so much for helping these kids, because it was me that had to go home and take the slip