She walked off a flight in tears and with a wad of cash. Her viral post explained why.

This is Kimberly Bermudez, a schoolteacher in Chicago. A few days ago, she had a life-changing experience flying home to see her parents in Florida.

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Bermudez.

It started out like most other flights — with some polite chit-chat to the person sitting next to her. She told the stranger about her job at a low-income school and some of the struggles she sees her students and their parents facing.    


"When he asked me the greatest challenge that I face I was honest with him," she later recalled in a Facebook post. "I told him that working at a low-income school can be heartbreaking."

Many of her students are immigrants, she'd explained to her seat mate, and their parents go above and beyond just to make ends meet. The man asked to get her information; the company he works for likes to donate items to schools like hers, he explained. Maybe they could work something out.

The kind gesture already made her flight a heartening one. But then things really took a turn.

Bermudez felt a tap on her shoulder.

The man sitting behind her apologized for having eavesdropped on her conversation — then handed her a stack of cash.

The bill on top was $100.

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Bermudez.

The man asked that she "do something amazing" with the gift.

"I was in complete awe," Bermudez wrote. She thanked him for his generosity and promised the money would be put to good use for her students.

But other passengers overheard the conversations, too.

After the plane landed, the man sitting across the aisle from Bermudez donated $20, she said. Another passenger sitting in front of her handed her a $10.

"I started crying on the plane," Bermudez wrote in her Facebook post, which has garnered more than 50,000 likes and 17,000 shares as of publication.

In total, the stunned Chicago teacher walked away with $530 — funding, Bermudez told The Washington Post, that she plans to spend on books for her students.

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Bermudez.

Incredibly, Bermudez's experience inspired other strangers to chip in, too.

Since the story went viral (it was even featured on The Today Show), the school where Bermudez teaches, Fuentes Elementary, has received over $4,000 in donations, the school confirmed to Upworthy. Some have even expressed interest in helping the students get new playground equipment.

Bermudez's story may warm the heart. But it's understandable if it leaves a bittersweet taste, too.

While those passengers' dollars will no doubt be put to great use, what does it say about the value our society places on education that a teacher needs donations from strangers to provide basic necessities to her students?

No one-off donation can fix the deep-rooted, systemic barriers facing kids in underserved communities.

Teachers in Chicago went on strike in 2012. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Our public schools are under-resourced. Our teachers are continually asked to do more with less (just ask the ones in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Oklahoma). And a flawed system of funding that rewards kids in wealthier suburbs leaves their poorer counterparts in small towns and inner-cities behind.

Their donations to Bermudez will make a difference, to be sure. But kind-hearted strangers on a flight to Florida can't overhaul a broken system.

If we really want to support teachers and the students they're educating, keep them in mind when you go to the ballot box.

Get involved locally, and fight for students in your own state and community. Listen to teachers and amplify their message when they fill the streets in protest.

And in the meantime, take Bermudez's advice and do something nice for someone who could use a helping hand.

"I do, however, hope that posting this continues the chain reaction of people helping those in need, and especially the children in need," she wrote in her Facebook post. "My heart is in complete shock and awe right now. When the world seems crazy, there are always good people."

Wear your values with products from PSA Supply Co., an independent site owned by our parent company, GOOD Worldwide Inc. GOOD makes money when you buy these products, and 10% of profits go to The Center for Community Change Action. Use discount code UPWORTHY to get 15% off your first order!

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 10.23.15


Getting people who don't suffer from anxiety issues to understand them is hard.

People have tried countless metaphors and methods to describe what panic and anxiety is like. But putting it into the context of a living nightmare, haunted house style, is one of the more effective ways I've ever seen it done.

Brenna Twohy delivered the riveting poetic analogy recently in Oakland, starting out by going off about some funny "Goosebumps" plots. It's lovely, funny, sweet, and relatable, and it's totally worth the short time to watch.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."