This story just made my day. We get so much bad news every day it’s really nice to hear about something so wonderful.
First grade Chicago teacher Kimberly Bermudez loves talking to strangers – especially about her passion: her students. Miss Bermudez teaches young children who are homeless. And all of her students come from low-income households.
Last month, when she was on a Southwest Airlines flight to Florida to visit her parents, she struck up a conversation with her seatmate about her job and the kids that she loves.
After chatting for a minute, her seatmate asked the teacher, “What’s the most challenging part of your job?”
27-year-old Bermudez said that the hardest part of her job was seeing children come to school hungry and seeing hard-working immigrant families struggle to provide basic necessities for their families.
In an interview with the Washington Post Bermudez said, “You can’t control what happens at home. These parents are amazing. They won’t eat to feed their child.”
Sometimes life has a way of putting you in just the right spot at just the right time. And that was the case for Miss Bermudez.
Her seatmate told her that his company donates to schools like hers. Bermudez was thrilled. She told him that her charter school, Carlos Fuentes Elementary, would welcome it.
Bermudez told the stranger that the teachers at her school care so much for the kids that they take money out of their own pockets to buy them things like underwear, soap, school supplies, and food.
And that’s when something even more amazing happened.
Bermudez felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around to the man sitting behind her with a baby on his lap. He apologized for eavesdropping and then handed her a stack of cash.
“Do something amazing,” he told her.
Bermudez looked down and saw that the top bill in her hand was $100. She didn’t want to be rude and count the cash in front of him. So it wasn’t until later that she realized that the stranger had handed her $500.
As her eyes filled with tears she said, “You have no idea how much this means. Whether it’s books or backpacks, I’ll make sure I give something to the children.”
When the plane landed in Jacksonville, a man who had been sitting across the aisle from her said that he too had heard her conversation and wanted to help. The man told her that he didn’t have much cash on him but he gave her $20.
Then a third passenger also handed her $10, all the cash he said he had with him.
By then Bermudez was crying happy tears of gratitude.
She recalled saying, “I’m not here to solicit money. I really am here on this plane just to see my parents.”
Then one of the men replied, “I know. That’s why we’re giving it to you. Use your voice. Use your gift of talking.”
When Bermudez got in the car with her mother she pulled out the cash and realized that they had given her $530. Just the sheer kindness of strangers would help her students so much.
“I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh,’” she said. “I’m very much still processing it.”
And the story gets even better.
After her experience, Bermudez posted about it on Facebook and her post was shared nearly 1,000 times. And some of those people decided to also donate to the kids. They sent books and supplies.
Bermudez says that she plans to spend the money buying books, backpacks, and supplies for her students with the money from kind strangers.
As for the man who handed her the stack of hundreds, he remains a very wonderful mystery.
“I have no idea who he is,” Bermudez said. “He was just an amazing stranger.”