Never underestimate the charitable good will of the Internet. This is a lesson Karen Klein, a 68-year-old school bus monitor from Greece, New York, learned the hard way.
Like so many stories of this nature, this tale begins with a YouTube video, which first appeared on Facebook. In the video, a vile little group of middle schoolers, ages 12 and 13, berate Klein with an endless stream of vicious verbal attacks. They call her a “troll,” a “fat ass,” and “elephant.” They tease her for presumably being “poor.” They threaten to egg her house.
The assault didn’t stop for 10 long minutes. Klein began to cry. They asked her why she had water running down her face.
Part way through the video, one of the students makes fun of Klein’s purse, which is covered in inspirational words, like “love,” “hope,” “inspire” — terms that stand in stark contrast to the savage attacks that flow endlessly from the children’s smirking lips.
“I try to live by some of these words,” said Klein in response to the hateful remarks. “I try and it’s really hard.”
At another point, one of the students is heard saying, “…you don’t have a family because they all killed themselves because they didn’t want to be near you.” Klein didn’t mention that her son had committed suicide.
Disgusted by the children’s treatment of Klein, one Max Sidorov, a Ukrainian nutritionist, set up a fundraiser on IndieGoGo.com with the goal of reaching $5,000 to send Klein on a much-needed vacation. At the time of this writing, the donations have reached $300,330. With a full 29 days left on the fundraiser’s clock, that number will surely be thousands of dollars more by the time any of you read this paragraph. Even if the money stopped coming in now, Klein would receive nearly 20 times her annual salary, which is only about $15,500.
Klein has since responded to her attackers, saying that she still wants an apology — a letter, please, as she doesn’t care to see any of their faces ever again. This morning, she appeared on the Today Show. “It made me feel really terrible, but I will get over it,” she said during her interview. “I’ve gotten over everything else.”
The Greece school system has also responded, calling in the police to investigate the matter. Klein says she wants “the boys punished,” but doesn’t want them charged with any crime. Greece Central School District Assistant Superintendent Deborah Hoeft says the juveniles “will face strong disciplinary action.”
As for that vacation, Klein’s daughter Michelle Hawkins said that she and her mother are considering a Disney cruise for their whole family. Regardless of what they choose, it’s clear that Klein will never have to face that kind of abuse from middle schoolers ever again.
When asked by a local newspaper, the Democrat and Chronicle, whether she would continue to work as a bus monitor, Klein didn’t even hesitate: “Yeah,” she said. “Why?” asked the reporter. “Because all kids aren’t bad,” said Klein.
Update: At 9:59pm ET, the Karen Klein vacation fund passed the $400,000 threshold. That means it took exactly 5 hours and 44 minutes to raise just over $100,000.
Watch the video below. Warning: This video is filled with hateful, NSFL language, and may be difficult to stomach.