Lifestyle & Human Interest

Teacher Dining with Special Needs Students at Cracker Barrel Receives Note All 22 Meals Paid For


In a heartwarming gesture, a Florida couple quietly bought lunch for 22 students with special needs and their teachers.

For special education students at South Miami Senior High, community outings are a regular and highly-anticipated part of their routine.

“Once a week we take our kids out into the community, basically to teach them life skills and social skills,” teacher Jacquelyn Lara told WSVN-TV. “So we’ll go to the mall, we’ll go to lunches.”

With winter break approaching, the teachers settled on taking the students to eat at Cracker Barrel in Florida City.

The group gathered around the restaurant’s festive tables, enjoyed lunch together and never even noticed that they were being watched.

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But when it came time to pay the bill, a waitress told Lara and her group that someone else had already picked up the tab.

The couple, who wished to remain anonymous, left a note for the teachers:

“Merry Christmas. Just a way to say thank you for all you do for the children,” the note read. “Please use any money left over on a party for the kids. May God bless you all!”

Lara and her colleagues were left stunned and even overcome with emotion at the unexpected, kind gesture.

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“Honestly, I was speechless,” Lara said. “I looked at the waitress in awe. I just honestly felt that she restored my faith in humanity.”

Lara’s coworker Jennifer Coco said the kind act left her crying “tears of joy.”

“We didn’t expect that at all,” Coco said.

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The teachers told their students what had just happened, and watched as their eyes lit up with understanding, gratitude and excitement.

“It made us feel really good because no one has ever done that,” South Miami Senior High student Jennifer Alcaide said.

“We felt so surprised that they paid for our bill. I’m really thankful for that.”

When the group returned to school, they got right to work making thank-you cards for the couple who had given them a most unexpected gift.

“We are so thankful because, even if it was $5 given to us, the fact that someone noticed and did that gesture — it speaks volumes of them and just of humanity,” Lara said.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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