Many students in high school struggle with finding what they want to do in the future. Oftentimes, they are rushed into picking a career path as young as the eighth-grade, and a university as soon as junior year. Geometry teacher, Jared Miller wanted to impact teens with free merchandise to help them on their road to college.

After a student suggested that Miller email colleges to see if he could get free merchandise, Miller began his task.

“I started back in April, actually emailing colleges, about 40 of them to start with,” Miller said. “So much stuff came, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is kind of fun,’ and I just started emailing more and more colleges.”

To begin with, he emailed colleges he was familiar with and continued on from there.

“I started with the colleges I had seen play sports in person first, and then I went through all of Division 1 and Division 2 teams in Texas,” Miller said. “Then all of the Division 1 football teams in America. Now I’m currently working on the Division 1 basketball teams in America.”

After he began to send the emails, many different packages began to arrive. It was clear Miller could not keep everything, so he began to give away the merchandise to students.

“I got backpacks… I’ve given away many-water bottles, and over 100 t-shirts,” Miller said. “I probably have over five big bags of pins. I think I’ve given away 200 pairs of sunglasses, [as well as] thousands of stickers. I’ve given away hundreds of things already.”

Several universities’ merchandise and spirit items that can be hung up, adorn the walls outside of Miller’s room in an attempt to inspire students to pursue high education. While most of the expected items mentioned came in almost every package, Miller had some notable oddities shipped to him as well.

“Some of the weirder items, West Texas A&M sent an ice cream scooper,” Miller said. “Marshall University in West Virginia sent plastic pizza cutters. Ryker University in New Jersey sent one pair of shoelaces.”

Miller has learned some tips and tricks from emailing colleges, as well as how to correctly approach asking for free things.

“I never know what counselors at the school are going to be generous, so I’ll send an email, and blind carbon copy it to like 6 counselors,” Miller said. “Sometimes, I’ll get a box from a college, and I open it up and there’s stuff. That same day I’ll get an email from a different counselor from that same school, that says they don’t send stuff.”

Although Miller’s initial intention was not to change the life of students, giving things away became a glimpse of hope for students that don’t have any idea of their future. 

“After the free stuff started coming, I started thinking, If this stuff is coming for free, and if I give out all of these stickers, buttons, and t-shirts if only one kid ends up going to college because they saw something, it cost me nothing,” Miller said. “It’s free anyway, I’m here.”