BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — A mother who hit the streets for most of the summer to raise money for her daughter's college education is ending her unorthodox campaign this week with more than $10,000 collected for tuition and board.
Lori Truex, a bus driver for the Lakeview School District in Battle Creek, will end her One Mom, One Year fundraising campaign Thursday to return to work.
Her 79-day fundraising effort began June 14. On summer days, she stood with a sign on street corners around the city panhandling passersby.
"This has been a summer I will never forget," she said. "I feel very blessed. We are very, very grateful."
She will stand Thursday on a spot near a Walmart to thank everyone for their contributions, which totaled $10,272.30 — $5,400 from an online GoFundMe account, $4,872.30, came from her panhandling or donors' checks depositedinto a credit union account she opened for the drive. News reports, Facebook and Twitter boosted her reach beyond Battle Creek.
Kendall Truex moved this past Thursday into her dormitory at Michigan State University. Classes start Wednesday.
More than half of the almost $10,300 paid for Kendall Truex's first semester.
Her mom said she'll use the rest to help pay her family's share of second-semester costs. Kendall Truex will pay the rest with grants, scholarships and loans.
"I'm just so grateful for everyone's help 'cause even though classes haven't even started I'm already having the best time up here," the new college student said Monday.
Kendall Truex graduated from Lakeview High School in 2015 with a 4.015 grade-point average. Michigan State in East Lansing accepted her in 2015 but she couldn't afford to go.
She received a $1,000 Santo and Maria Zanetti Scholarship from the Battle Creek Community Foundation and also took advantage of a Legacy Scholarship, a Battle Creek Community Foundation program that helps the area's public school graduates attend Kellogg Community College for two years.
Lori Truex carried signs and laminated paperwork in a folder to prove she was not trying to pull a fast one on anybody: her daughter's graduation photo, high school transcripts, Kellogg Community College transcripts, acceptance letter from Michigan State and a financial aid letter. She also had her employer identification card on hand in case anyone asked.
She even reached out to The Ellen DeGeneres Show for a chance to win a $60,000 prize for parents struggling to meet their children's college tuition expenses but did not hear back from show producers.
Truex said she also promised her family not to raise money again in such an unusual way.
"I promised nothing more crazy, ever again," she said.
Follow Noe Hernandez on Twitter: @sayyesnoe