Photo by Sarah Grace Taylor / Editor-in-Chief
A virtually empty wallet, a desperate Facebook post and a random act of kindness brought together Lindsey Elkins, Jade Peppers and the MTSU class of 2018 in an unexpected way over the weekend.
“To the person that has my wallet and keys… If you took it on purpose, PLEASE just read this,” Elkins, a junior biology major, wrote in a plea to the MTSU Class of 2018 Facebook group.
“I’m not angry with you…I don’t have the money to replace my keys that you took. I don’t have a form of transportation anymore. There is nothing for you to gain from taking my things other than making my life hard,” the post read. “…PLEASE, just return my things to Lost and Found on campus. I won’t ask who turned it in. I understand why you took it if you did on purpose. Really, I’ve been in tough spots in my life, too. I won’t judge you. To those of you reading this, please share. I just want my stuff back.”
Elkins shared the post with her classmates in destitution on Friday evening after she believes her wallet and attached keys were taken from her bag in the science building.
By Saturday afternoon, despite over 30 reactions to the post, nobody had provided any information on her missing belongings.
Among classmates who reacted was Peppers, an advertising major who had never met Elkins.
“Her story made me upset. I wanted to do something for her,” Peppers said. “While I have never had my wallet stolen, I have had money taken from me, and it’s devastating.”
In the comments on the original post, Peppers shared a link to a GoFundMe campaign titled “Help Out a MTSU Raider,” to which she had made the first donation of $25.
“I was honestly nervous. I second guess myself a lot. I didn’t know if anyone was actually going to look at the link or take it seriously,” Peppers said. “The last thing I wanted was online hate. I wanted to be the first one to donate so no one thought this was a scam.”
The campaign’s goal was set at $250 to help Elkins with expenses related to her car locks, dorm keys, student ID and license.
With 18 donations ranging from $5 to $100, the class of 2018 had raised $305 by Sunday morning.
“I didn’t realize we reached the goal in less than 20 hours. I was blown away. My phone was dead all day and when I turned it on, I saw so many emails from GoFundMe of everyone donating,” Peppers said. “I was so excited. This simple idea actually worked.”
While some donations were made by members of Elkins’ family through her Facebook page, classmates she had never met rallied behind her offering donations and supportive comments.
“I didn’t personally know any of them, but it’s inspiring and comforting to see our class pull together to help someone like this, especially when I am also a stranger to them,” Elkins said.
For Peppers, it did not matter who it was, she just wanted to help a Raider in need.
“Personally, I don’t even know Lindsey. I’ve never met her before,” Peppers said. “Even if she does get her keys and wallet back, I hope she uses this cash to pay it forward.”
Peppers and Elkins met for the first time Monday night in the library on campus. Elkins, upon recognizing Peppers, leapt from her chair hugging and thanking the stranger who started the whole thing.
“To be honest, I cried,” Elkins told Peppers. “I just didn’t realize I had a community like that, and I couldn’t have done it without you guys.”
Elkins told MTSU Police about her wallet and, while she has not heard anything back, told Peppers she would poll the Facebook group to decide what to do with the money if her things are returned.
Follow Sarah Grace Taylor on Twitter @_SarahGTaylor