Community rallies to save school project to send Christmas gifts to soldiers overseas

Posted at 10:22 PM, Dec 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-09 00:22:01-05

WEST JORDAN, Utah - Students at Heartland Elementary in West Jordan pleaded for help with their school project, and FOX 13 viewers came through, lending support and their wallets.

"I didn't think there was enough people out there who cared," said Aiden Berg, president of the student council.

For two weeks, the school had collected gifts and supplies for soldiers in Afghanistan. The task wasn't easy because Heartland Elementary is a Title One school, and money is tougher to come by for most families. But after two weeks, the school had collected 300 pounds of gifts to send overseas.

"I was like, 'wow,'" Berg said while looking at the tables filled with supplies.

Then came the problem.

Three hundred pounds costs roughly $3,000 to send to the base in Afghanistan, and the company who said they would pay to ship the presents, didn't realize it would cost so much.

The company backed out, and the kids were left wondering how the presents would make it to soldiers.

"It was heartbreaking," said Jensen Underwood, a student at Heartland Elementary.

Within an hour and a half of the story airing Monday night of students needing help, the donations started to roll in, mostly in amounts of $50 or less.

That quickly changed, however.

"One guy donated $2,000," Mindy Jackson, a teacher at Heartland pointed out.  "I had to pick my jaw off the ground."

"My dad made a joke that maybe he was just trying to put in $20 and accidentally pressed a couple zeros," Berg joked.

Within two hours, the goal was reached, but the donations kept coming. Mike Templeman read the story on Monday night and picked up the phone to help out.

"For some reason it just really resonated with me," Templeman said.

Templeman, the founder of Foxtail Marketing, and his team rallied around the students.

"I had a cousin who was in the National Guard and was overseas during Christmas," Templeman explains. "I just remember the stories and how lonely he was."

In the end, students had enough supplies and money to ship 100 boxes to soldiers abroad.  Now, they'll cross their fingers and hope it gets there in time for Christmas.