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Phoenix native buys gift cards with stimulus money for his students

While many people spent their stimulus checks, a Phoenix teacher spent all of his giving back to his students by making sure they had something to eat during these tough times.

Matthew Pierce, a Phoenix native and high school teacher, bought gift cards for his students and he hopes his act of kindness will inspire others to do the same.

"If everyone just takes that mindset of helping out in their own community, we will get through this," he said.

He is a high school civics and African American studies teacher at Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania. When he got his stimulus check, he decided he wanted to do something for his students.

While Milton Hershey is a boarding school that didn’t shut down during the pandemic, some students did go home and were struggling while they were there.

"A kid may not have access to food, mama might have to work, mama might have lost their job due to coronavirus," Pierce said. So he bought 42 gift cards for Amazon and other businesses they can buy food from.

He said the most meaningful feedback he got about his act of kindness was a student saying his single mother worked while he watched his younger siblings and the gift card allowed them to buy food.

Pierce grew up in south Phoenix and attended Griffith Elementary.

"Mr. Davis really instilled in me giving back by example," he said. Pierce went on to become a teacher himself at Sunnyslope High School before heading to Pennsylvania.

He hopes his hometown community will give back to others during this tough time too, saying, "I really hope people will find ways in their own community to give back. You don’t have to think big picture. Something small picture can make a difference."

This story was reported on from Phoenix, Arizona.