A Battle Creek mother who hit the streets in June to ask strangers for donations to help pay for her daughter's college education is halfway to her goal.
Standing with a sign on corners around the city, Lori Truex has collected $2,955.34 from passersby and received another $2,570 in online donations through GoFundMe.
It will be enough to pay nearly half of the $11,805 bill she received Saturday, her family's share of fall semester costs at Michigan State University for her youngest daughter, Kendall Truex. Her daughter will pay for the other half with grants, scholarships and loans.
"I truly feel so blessed," Truex said Thursday, day 44 of her 79-day "One Mom, One Year" drive. "Everyone has been so kind, so generous. The fact that we were able to cover the first semester tuition is just amazing."
Truex estimates that she'll need to collect another $7,200 to pay her family's share of Kendall's spring semester costs for tuition, room and board, and textbooks.
She plans to continue her fundraising drive until Labor Day, after which she'll return to her job as a school bus driver.
"I'm just so excited that I get the privilege and opportunity to go to MSU," said Kendall Truex, who plans to major in food science. "I'm just so thankful for everyone who's donated, and I hope that everyone's learning that this is a bigger issue for a lot of people.
"I'm just looking forward to moving into my dorm," she added.
Kendall Truex graduated from Lakeview High School in 2015 with a 4.015 grade point average.
MSU accepted her in 2015, but she couldn't afford to go. So she took advantage of a Legacy Scholars scholarship and enrolled at Kellogg Community College.
She has received a $1,000 Santo and Maria Zanetti Scholarship from the Battle Creek Community Foundation for her MSU tuition.
Lori Truex has carried signs and laminated paperwork in a folder to prove she's not trying to pull a fast one on anybody: her daughter's graduation photo, high school transcripts, Kellogg Community College transcripts, acceptance letter from MSU and a financial aid letter. She also had her employer identification card on hand in case anyone asked for ID.
Truex said one man who gave her a $100 bill told her that he secretly believed that God was a Michigan State fan. Another man told her he wished his mother had believed in him as much as she believed in her daughter.
"Yes, it's about the money, but people have been so kind, not just with their money, but sharing their stories, their struggles and that's honestly the greater gift in this," she said. "I have a whole new appreciation of how generous and how kind people are.
"People that you might look at and think they don't have a nickel to their names are still kind and generous," she added.