Kelli Cameron is a first-grade teacher and Matt Cameron "wasn't a fan of the whole wedding gift idea," he tells Fox 13. "We knew we didn't need much of anything," Kelli adds. So what was the Florida couple to do when they got engaged? Ask wedding guests to bring school supplies for kids in need in lieu of traditional wedding gifts. They came up with an "Angel Tree" idea, in which each guest was given a description of the children they'd be buying for, and the guests really went for it: More than 70 backpacks were donated, full of school supplies, uniforms, other articles of clothing, water bottles, and even cleaning supplies. The couple donated them to a nearby school in Tampa with a high poverty rate.
Kelli tells WFLA it was her now-husband who really sparked the idea: "I was a fan of the no wedding gifts, but I even said, 'Well maybe we could have them donate toward our honeymoon or something like that.' And he was like, 'No, let’s not even do that.' And that’s when we started brainstorming a little bit more." But her career path inspired the specifics, because she knows how hard it is for kids to start school without the things they need. "It’s so important that when the kids start school, excited to come to school, as silly as it seems, a new backpack can be what gets them excited,” she said. She adds that the donations will help teachers, too, because "being a teacher, when you have students that don’t have supplies and things like that, you take it into your own heart and feel the need to go and get that for them." (Read more uplifting news stories.)