The Internet can kind of be a bummer, and we’ve essentially accepted as part of the deal. But sometimes? Sometimes the Internet can be a really heartwarming place, and this was proven a couple days ago when a photo of a boy named Hunter Cmelo sitting alone during lunch surfaced and caught everyone’s attention. Because this boy wasn’t just sitting alone —he was being publicly ostracized by the entire school. Someone placed a cardboard poster in front of him as a partition, so he wouldn’t be able to look at the other students, and other students couldn’t look at him. Our hearts feel crumbly.
This was all because Hunter was tardy, which according to his mom Nicole, was not his fault. “Sometimes Hunter isn’t ready, but most often the tardiness is not his fault. Nicole suffers from osteoporosis, which makes it painful and difficult for her to function, especially in the morning,” KDRV reports. Additionally, the household car has been acting up, making it harder to get anywhere on time.
Luckily, there’s a happy ending. This really saddening incident in Oregon inspired people all over the Internet to help Hunter’s family. Instead of fixing the family’s run-down car, Rapid Repo and Collections, donated a 2001 Chrysler Town and Country van, while other local businesses pitched in to upgrade the vehicle with new tires, and a new windshield. Other around the web have provided free oil changes for a year and donated money for the family’s gas card.
“We were so shocked, it doesn’t seem real. I’m trying to tell Hunter that this doesn’t just happen to you,” Nicole told ABC News.
While the family didn’t expect to receive such kindness and assistance, they did hope speaking out about their son’s situation would force the school to rethink their tardiness policy and how they handle it. Needless to say, they got the school’s attention. They’ve agreed to revise their actions when it comes to publicly isolating late students.
“As a result of the concerns raised, the district ended the learning catch-up location at Lincoln Elementary School,” the Grants Pass District said in a statement to ABC News. “Going forward, a separate, supervised classroom has been designated for necessary catch-up work.”
Hopefully, the school will also be a little more lenient when it comes to punishing late students who have extenuating family circumstances. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that everyone has their own struggle, and that sometimes, speaking out and sharing your story can make a huge difference.