GASTONIA, N.C. -- A Gastonia grandmother could teach us all a thing or two about giving – and receiving.
The fifth graders at Pleasant Ridge Elementary School are literally jumping for joy today. They’re celebrating their graduation.
Longtime teacher Clarissa Sanders says, “It means the world to them – they never had this type of celebration in their life.”
That’s because 85 percent of the kids here get free and reduced lunch. even the school doesn’t have a lot of money. – in fact, the party almost didn’t happen.
Kym Jackson’s two grandkids are students here, neither are even in the fifth grade, but they wanted to help.
“I said how much money do you have? She said none. I said I guess ill be doing the whole thing for you. My grandmother instilled in me to always give back.”
The American Airlines employee is always helping. Not long ago, she happened to answer the phone late one night at the airport and a fellow employee, a stranger, was desperate to get out of an abusive home situation.
“When she got to the airport she had her son with her and I said I can’t leave you at the airport, I gotta take you home with me.”
That’s why the airline honored her with the Chairman's Award, giving her $10,000. She decided to give it to the school and other causes.
“That money is extra money so why not give it away,” she explains.
Why not? Because she herself could probably use it.
“Both grandkids are both having surgery this summer.”
Her grandson's skull needs to be re-shaped and her granddaughter has a recurring brain tumor.
“To me just hearing the story almost brought tears to my eyes,” Sanders says.
And what’s more – Kym has custody of the kids because their mother died of a brain aneurysm.
“Just have faith and if you have faith you can live through it.”
American Airlines decided she shouldn’t have to give away her money and decided to pay for the school party.
“It’s awesome this is awesome,” Jackson says.
But she’s still giving the money away, though she plans to treat her grandkids to Disney World this summer.