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Teen Spends More Than $500 Buying Gifts For Homeless

She doesn’t make that much at Taco Bell, but that didn’t stop her from giving.
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(credit: Stepping Stone Emergency Housing)

(credit: Stepping Stone Emergency Housing)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – An East Bethel teenager is a picture of the holiday season of giving, donating her entire paycheck to buy Christmas gifts for more than 50 homeless Minnesotans.

Jessica Peterson, 17, doesn’t make much working at Taco Bell, but she wanted to do something special for those less fortunate. She spent more than $500 to purchase pants, socks and snacks for 58 people at the Stepping Stone homeless shelter in Anoka County.

“It feels great to help other people, and it’s great that they can have a nice Christmas, too,” Peterson said. “I work a lot, and don’t have many bills and just thought: Why not?”

Stepping Stone is the only homeless shelter serving Anoka County adults who are in a difficult circumstance.

Peterson and her family will deliver the gifts in person on Christmas Eve.

“I can’t wait to meet them, talk to them and get to know them,” Peterson said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Her mom is hopeful her daughter’s generosity will inspire others.

“I’m just so incredibly proud of her, coming up with this idea entirely on her own,” Liz Uram said. “I thought at first it was just going to be a simple toy drop-off, but once she got going you couldn’t stop her. She has a big heart.”

Peterson is a senior at St. Francis High School in St. Francis, Minn.

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