This High School Teacher Is Donating Her Wedding Registry To Her Students

"It’s truly the most life affirming project I've ever been involved in.”

On high school teacher Rickee Stewart's wedding registry, you won't find a request for a ceramic dining set or a crystal salad bowl. Instead, you'll find backpacks, sneakers, and winter coats.

They're not for her. They're for her students. 

While teaching 11th grade at Copper Hills High School in West Jordan, Utah, Stewart witnessed firsthand the daily toll homelessness takes on young people, including more than 110 of her students. Additionally, over 45 percent of the Copper Hills student population qualify for free or reduced lunch. 

"That means almost half of my students are seriously struggling financially. While the cause and solution for homelessness is often hotly debated, when it comes to kids, the politics just fall away," she told A Plus via email. "These kids did nothing to cause their struggles... They are simply struggling." As their teacher, Stewart feels compelled to do whatever she can to help.


So when it came time to plan her wedding, donating her registry to her students was, well, a piece of (wedding) cake.

Because this was a second marriage for Stewart and her fiancé, Kasey, they already owned all the items a couple would typically request in a registry, and then some. When they started combining homes, they often gave away duplicates of certain items. With more than enough, Stewart was inspired to use her wedding registry to give back on a larger scale.  "I knew we had kids in need at my school and approached Kasey with the idea of an 'in lieu of gifts' insert in our invitations," she told A Plus. "He immediately agreed and we started our first project." 

Using the teacher-specific fundraising website, Donors Choose, the couple created their first fundraiser with a $727 goal for coats and backpacks on June 22.

But before they could send the first invitation to friends and family, the project was funded… by complete strangers.

"We created another project, and the same thing happened. We created several drafts of the [invitation] insert before we were even able to send out our invitations," she explained. In doing so, she was able to provide her students with sleeping bags and tents with one fundraiser and 600 winter coats with another — independent of her actual wedding registry. 

Stewart found the irony of her situation "comical," but more importantly, heartwarming. "We are incredibly touched by the outpouring of kindness.  Strangers from all over the world are donating to help my kids and leaving the most wonderful messages," she said. "…It's truly the most life affirming project I've ever been involved in." 

The surprisingly large scale of these contributions had such a harrowing impact on Stewart that she wishes she could meet every donor and, of course, invite them to take part in her special day.

"I really wish I could have a big wedding and invite all of these kind souls who have connected with us and helped our kids," she said. "I feel like there is no way I could show them how deeply their kindness has affected my family and I. I am forever changed by this project." 

As much as Stewart's life has been changed by these projects, she's still committed to changing the lives of her students. Her current project, "Our Wedding Registry for Winter Coats for Our Homeless Students" (finally!), aims to raise $11,948 by Stewart's wedding in September. Once again, both those invited to her wedding and complete strangers are coming together to make this selfless dream a fully-funded reality.  

Besides the physical donations to her students, Stewart hopes her project, and the media attention it has garnered, helps "people understand the depth of this problem." To that end, she also believes that, "As a society, we need to understand that homelessness is now an education problem, and we need to do everything we can to help these kids." 


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