The new stimulus proposal includes another round of direct payments to millions of Americans, and it has some worried checks will be going out to Americans who don’t need the money.
However, those who received stimulus checks in the past but did not lose their jobs are showing their money is still going to those who need it most.
Matthew Pierce is a teacher at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The school is a free boarding school for children in poverty, where they are given free housing and free meals to focus on their academics and thrive.
During the pandemic, some students had to return home to a family struggling financially. So, when Pierce received his first stimulus check last year, he decided to use it to feed students who had to return home. He acknowledged the money could’ve been used to pay bills or feed his own family, but he knew his students needed it more.
“To forgo paying a bill or to forgo something that money could be utilized for, that was an easy decision for me to make,” said Pierce. "It’d be far harder for me to know that I utilized it for something I needed while one of the students I know was in need and didn’t have food that day.”
Pierce purchased more than 40 Uber Eats gift cards for students, sending them electronically to students in need. Oftentimes, he included a note of encouragement with the gift.
“Some people I gave more encouraging statements because I knew their situation more closely,” said Pierce, “But it really meant a lot, because I know that day those students and their family were going to be able to buy themselves a good meal.”
Uber Eats has since donated more gift cards for Pierce to be able to send to his students.
“I just want as many people that can to make it out of this pandemic,” said Dana Kennedy, a nonprofit worker in Colorado.
Kennedy also chose not to use her stimulus money for herself.
“I gave it to people who I knew directly, who need more financial resources,” said Kennedy. "I gave some of it to a mutual aid organization who is supporting people in Denver where I live, who need money to pay for things like rent or to get their car fixed.”
She also used the rest of her stimulus money to donate to her local food bank. When asked what her plans are for the next stimulus check, she plans to donate most of it as well.
Pierce, too, plans to continue to put all stimulus checks to help his students.
“Someone asked me why I don’t start some national campaign for this sort of thing or open up a GoFundMe?” said Pierce. “My response is simply, ‘what we need right now is everyone to find where they are best able to meet the need in their community. If we are all giving in our community, everyone’s need gets met.’”
Kennedy and Pierce are just two people of many around the country who have donated their stimulus checks. Many people are posting about it on social media using the hashtag #ShareMyCheck or #PayItForward. The goal is to inspire others to do the same and to combat concerns that some stimulus checks won’t be going to those in need, a concern Kennedy thinks is distracting from bigger problems.
“I think there are bigger worries, like the billionaires getting richer and richer and richer while the rest of us are not,” said Kennedy. “Me getting $1,400 is the wrong thing we should be thinking about."