When Richardson ISD school bus driver Curtis Jenkins surprised every one of his elementary school students with a Christmas gift last week, he never expected the gesture would go viral.
“I think one of the teachers said let me get a picture of you beside the bus with the presents,” said Jenkins.
Lake Highlands Elementary School posted the photos on its Facebook page Saturday, where families celebrated the good deed. NBC 5 covered the story on Sunday.
“I never could imagine the people who have reached out to me to help with my cause,” Jenkins said.
Since the weekend, Jenkins act of generosity has inspired messages of support but also efforts to raise money on his behalf.
“So many accounts has been set up on GoFundMe in my name, with my picture,” said Jenkins. “I never set up anything.”
Jenkins never asked for donations. He says he set aside money from his paycheck to pay for the gifts. He and his wife, Shaneqia, decided not to buy each other gifts for Christmas to pull off the surprise.
In an email, GoFundMe tells NBC 5, “It’s not uncommon for someone to create a GoFundMe after they see a news story because they simply want to help. When a campaign is created to raise money for another individual they don’t personally know, we place the funds on hold and work with them to transfer the funds directly to the beneficiary. In this case, we are working with all campaign organizers and we guarantee all funds raised will go directly to Mr. Jenkins. He can choose to receive the funds or refund donors.”
Jenkins says he didn’t expect people to offer money. Over the last seven years of driving a school bus for Richardson ISD, Jenkins regularly surprises students with school supplies. Last Thanksgiving, his family purchased turkeys for students’ families that needed one.
Jenkins rewards students for good behavior and maintaining a clean bus with “Bus Bucks” that can be used toward school supplies he provides. The children have responsibilities on the bus that include chairperson and safety captain.
“That little time they have with me, it means so much. I’m the first face they see before they get to school in the morning,” said Jenkins.
“I call my bus a community. We love each and everybody in the community,” Jenkins added.
Thursday, Jenkins began work to start a nonprofit foundation he’s calling “Magnify, Caring and Change.” He says he’s filing 501(c)(3) paperwork and any donations should go to Chase bank in his nonprofit’s name.
Jenkins also opened an instagram account to commute with followers on social media: CurtisJenkins2018.
Jenkins says he hopes to advance his mission to help young students.
“I’m still on that mission from God,” said Jenkins.