When Alabama school bus driver Wayne Price got a notification from district officials on Dec. 11 that an ice storm had delayed the school’s opening, he started to worry. Price wasn’t concerned about the road conditions, though. As a veteran bus driver for Shelby County, he knew that his students might be thrilled to sleep in. But he also knew if school started two hours late, it meant they’d miss their school-served breakfast.
“For a lot of students that means that they won’t get to eat,” Allison Campbell, Principal of Montevallo Elementary, told NBC’s Today. “It speaks volumes to [Price’s] character that he was attuned to that.”
Approximately 75 percent of the school’s students receive assistance from the National School Lunch program, which serves free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch in public schools across the country. Aware of this, Price knew he had to make sure his students had a decent meal. So he stopped at a local McDonald’s, bought 50 biscuit sandwiches and gave them to students as they boarded the bus.
“One of the kids said, ‘oh, Mr. Price, you must be rich,'” Price told ABC 33 News. “I am not rich. I am in full-time ministry. I am not rich, but you sit there and think about it, you take your family out to dinner, and you can drop $50 going out to dinner, and it was nothing more than taking my family out to dinner. When it came down to the financial side, it was just second nature. I really did not think about it. I thought, hey this would be neat. I bet they will like this.”
Word quickly spread of the kind-hearted bus driver’s gesture. To thank him, the elementary school posted about it on social media for all the world to see.
It didn’t take long for the story to go viral. But for Price, the deed was a no-brainer. “You do not have long to talk to them on the bus, but you have a lot of time to influence them,” Price said of his daily interactions with the young students. “It is amazing what a kind word, just a smile can do. You get to set the example when they have struggles and frustrations of responding differently than what the world tends to train people to respond.”
As he gave out the meals, the bus driver made one simple request: to keep the wrappers off the floor. The students happily granted his request and kept the bus spotless as they ate their breakfasts.