Passengers Hand Teacher Stack of Cash After Hearing Her Talk About Students During Flight


If you’ve ever studied fundraising, you’ve heard about The Ask. It’s a simple enough concept.

You can hem and haw around a topic as much as you like, trying to remain affable and gracious. But to get what you want, eventually you’re going to have to make The Ask.

It’s a universal law of human existence — right? After all, people don’t just give you things unless you explicitly ask for them, do they?

Well, for one Chicago school teacher, her story about the struggles her students faced turned into an unexpected windfall. 27-year-old Kimber Bermudez was on a Southwest flight from the Windy City to her childhood home in Florida when she struck up a conversation with her seatmate.

He asked her a little about herself, and Bermudez explained she was a teacher in a charter school for low-income students. Then the man asked what she found most challenging about her job.

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“I was honest with him,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “I told him that working at a low income school can be heartbreaking.”

Bermudez explained how some of her students didn’t have the basic necessities for living, much less school supplies. Some of them were even homeless.

Many of the teachers in the Acero Charter School Network where she worked pulled money out of their own pockets to help their charges. Pencils, paper, glue, notebooks, even underwear — teachers had purchased them all these things and more.

At this point, entrepreneurial pundits might’ve urged Bermudez to notice her seatmate’s engagement and Make The Ask. However, she was simply engaged in a conversation.

Then something utterly unexpected happened: A man seated behind Bermudez tapped her on the shoulder.

The school teacher glanced behind her, and the individual “apologized for listening in to my conversation, and he handed me a wad of cash,” she wrote. “He told me to ‘do something amazing’ and sat back down.”

Bermudez looked down at the money, and her eyes must’ve gone wide. The bill on top of the pile was a Benjamin Franklin — $100.

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Her parents had always told her never to count bills in front of a third party. So she simply thanked the man as tears began to fill her eyes.

“I 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,’” she recounted to The Washington Post.

Soon enough, the people around Bermudez began chipping in. One man gave her $20, and another handed her $10.

Only once she’d deplaned and gotten into her mother’s car did she count the money. The first man had passed her $500.

She explained to The Washington Post that she remembered saying, “I’m not here to solicit money. I really am here on this plane just to see my parents.”

One of the generous gentlemen had replied, “I know. That’s why we’re giving it to you. Use your voice. Use your gift of talking.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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