Unexpected donation “wows” Burney Elementary staff, students
BURNEY — When the staff and administrators of Burney Elementary School were finishing up their duties after a long week of educating Burney’s youth last Friday, they never could have expected the random act of kindness the school and its students were about to receive.
But when a man walked into the school’s office just before the end of the school day and offered to pay off the entire school’s lunch balances, everyone at the school soon learned a valuable lesson about the power of a simple act of kindness.
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For some, $2 or $3 for a well-balanced, healthy lunch isn’t too much of an imposition. However, even with reduced-price lunch programs at most schools, those prices can sometimes still be a financial burden to struggling families.
Although Fall River Mills Joint Unified School District’s policy is that all students will be served a meal regardless of their cafeteria balance, when parents fall behind in their payments it can cause undue stress not only to the parents, but the students as well.
After hearing about nationwide efforts by Americans to pay off student’s cafeteria balances to ensure all children can receive a healthy meal, one Burney resident, John Meyer – who initially wanted to be identified as Jim MIller – decided to step up and take action.
Burney resident John Meyer “wowed” the staff and student body at Burney Elementary School after walking into the campuses office last Friday and offering to pay off every students’ outstanding cafeteria balances, some of which totaled more than $100. The combined balance Jim paid off was more than $2,300.
After the unexpected donation, Lorinda Wike – who is a paraprofessional in Special Ed in the morning and clerk typist in the office in the afternoons – first shared what she experienced that afternoon in a social media post and later described to SCNS what happened that special day.
“Honestly, there are days where you question people, question behaviors, question choices, or lack of,” Lorinda began.
“And then, at the end of a hard day, someone walks into the office and changes everything,” Lorinda continued; explaining, “After school, a couple of us were in the office when this gentleman walked Into the office and asked about the kids’ school lunch balances.”
“We were a bit thrown off because he wasn’t specific about which child’s balance he wanted to know about,” Lorinda explained. “So, imagine our surprise when he simply stated, ‘all of them’, and said he wanted to pay off the balances of each and every BES student to honor his grand daughter, Lillian Meyer, a former student of the school.
Having heard about other recent similar donations Lorinda said, “All of the sudden it hit me, and I said, “Oh my gosh, I know what you’re doing. This is all over Facebook. I think I’m going to cry!”
It didn’t take long for word of John’s intentions to spread throughout the office and as other teary-eyed office staff and teachers began to fill the office, a staff member quickly began calculating the balances for every student.
When the balances were totaled and administrators gave John the amount – $2,300 – he did not hesitate for a moment, and said he was heading to the bank and would be back in a few minutes.
After John left, Lorinda quickly notified the school’s principal, Marcy Schmidt, and told her she wasn’t going to believe what had just happened.
“Marcy immediately came to the office, got over the intercom, and asked all the teachers to report to the office,” Lorinda described. “Several of them were expecting bad news but all were very shocked and surprised when they heard the wonderful news, as we’ve never had anything like this happen at our school before.”
John returned a short time later with a check in hand, and to the applause of all those crowded into the school’s front office, presented the check to the school’s staff.
“There were a lot of shocked faces and many tears were shed, but everyone was so grateful,” Lorinda told SCNS.
“He was a very humble man and just wanted to do something good,” Lorinda continued; saying, “Honestly, I’m still in shock and so, so thankful that I got to witness this amazing kind act happen.”
“It’s definitely made me, as well as many others, want to do random acts of kindness, no matter how big or small.”
“Like I said, big things like this don’t normally happen at our school,” Lorinda continued. “So we all feel incredibly blessed that he chose our school, in honor of his granddaughter, to share this generation donation.”
After the donation, second grade teacher Joy Ford also posted about her experience to social media and later told SCNS, “Everyone needs a miracle now and then, and after a rough day, I really needed that miracle.”
“Thank you for your kind heart and generous gift John,” Joy continued. “And thank you God for allowing me to witness the miracle of generosity and selflessness!”
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Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.