A $15,000 gift is an early Christmas for a group of Southeast Houston students.
The present came from a perfect stranger. The kids who were given this gift attend a school without a library. That means no books, no computers.
When one Houstonian heard about it, he walked into Barnes and Noble and walked out with a $15,000 receipt.
Sure, libraries are supposed to be quiet, but not like this. For the last six years, the library at Cullen Middle School has been closed because of budget cuts.
"It's been a major challenge. That was one of the first initiatives I started when I became principal two years ago, to re-establish the library," says Cullen Middle School Principal Clayton Crook.
Recently, Principal Crook happened to meet the owner of Russell Smith Auto, Mike Smith and his son Stephen.
"We were blown away by Mr. Crook," smiles Stephen Smith.
After touring the school, the Smiths couldn't believe the environment.
"I was just like wow this is amazing these kids are moved by these teachers," says Stephen.
"My teachers here at Cullen Middle School are loving and caring," smiles 11-year-old Kayla Green.
The next time the father and son went back to Cullen they brought boxes of Nook tablets with them.
"150 e-readers," says Mr. Crook.
150 electronic tablets and covers for the Cullen Middle School library.
"Oh that's awesome. He gave us another piece of knowledge to help us get to college," says Kayla.
"My dad does have a big heart. He loves to give. Education is important. I want to get into education as well and be a teacher one day," adds Smith.
"I think they are wonderful people," says 11-year-old Erika Chacon.
The kids are ecstatic about the books they'll be able to access.
"I like mystery books. Sometimes it just gets me pumped. Unlike one of the normal girls that always like to go shopping, I would rather stay at home and have a nice comfy book," says 12-year-old Jada Edison.
"Like if you just want to be in your own zone you can just pick up a book and just start reading it," says sixth grader Derick Goudeaux.
"I like to read because it helps my vocabulary," adds 12-year-old Darrah Cooper.
"I would rather read than be on the computer or something. I like to read. It's like really interesting to me. I like to read books and I like to talk about what I read," smiles Edison.
Giving the kids books gives them an opportunity they likely would not have had.
"90% of my students live below the poverty level," says Principal Crook.
"As much as you can educate and give kids opportunities that's a better future for everybody," adds Smith. What a nice Christmas gift, huh? "It is. It is. Very nice," says Crook.
The e-readers will be set-up and ready for the kids next week. I have been a reader and writer for as long as I can remember. Certainly I'm not the only bookwork in town.
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