Do you remember being in elementary school? Although we can probably all remember the big things about our early years, sometimes we forget the smaller things and the more specific difficulties that come with growing into an adult. Aside from getting good grades and doing the work, there’s also a pressure to uphold a certain image to the other students and teachers. We want to seem cool, we want to fit in and we definitely don’t want to stand out for anything negative.
Unfortunately, sometimes the difficulties we have at home end up coming out no matter how hard we try.
That was the case for the Cmelo family living in Medford, Oregon.
It all started when six-year-old Hunter Cmelo ended up going viral on Facebook for all the wrong reasons. As it turns out, Hunter’s school Lincoln Elementary had a disciplinary policy for students who were frequently late to class. Part of the punishment for being late too often was to be placed in detention in a “confidential cubby,” a cardboard box with one side cut out of it that is placed in front of a child on their desk. Behind it, they are isolated from the rest of the classroom.
Still, when Hunter’s grandma found out about the unusual punishment, she shared it on Facebook with an explanation for why he was so often late.
As it turns out, the Cmelo family was going through some particularly difficult times.
Hunter’s mom was in poor health and the family also had a car that was in bad shape and constantly breaking down. Because the family lived only four blocks from school, Hunter wasn’t eligible to ride the bus—and his mom wasn’t healthy enough to walk with him to school. Hunter’s father, Marc, gave interviews to local news media saying that his son shouldn’t be isolated from things that were happening at home. “We’re just a working-class family doing the best we can with what we’ve got,” he said.
Fortunately, the family’s story spread far and wide and help was soon on its way.
After some time, the Cmelo family’s story spread to local radio host, Bill Meyer.
Once he’d heard the story, Meyer knew that something had to be done to help the family in need. To do so, he decided to call Lisa McClease-Kelly, the owner of her own local automotive service. According to Kelly, the answer was an immediate yes. Through that first offer to help, the Cmelo’s story spread throughout town, with various local businesses and partnerships chipping in and offering to help however they could. Although the original plan was to fix the family’s broken Dodge Durango, the mechanics at Kelly’s Automotive Services decided the car wasn’t worth saving.
What the town did instead was much more extravagant.
Eventually, word traveled to Ronald Sherrard, the owner of a local car reposition service called Rapid Repo.
As it turned out, the business owned a vehicle which needed some minor repairs and wasn’t in active use. Working with Kelly’s Automotive Services, everyone finally came together to present the Cmelo family with a gift.
Because the town banded together, they were able to give the Cmelo family a brand new Chrysler minivan!
Needless to say, the family was very moved by the incredible surprise.
For his part, Marc said he couldn’t believe how resourceful and innovative everyone in the community had been—all to help out his family. “I’m just blown away to see the community come together like this,” he said. “To see that there’s still good people out there and that people really care.”
In all, this story is a great example of how important it is to be thoughtful and kind to our neighbors.
While people who live in big cities sometimes miss out on experiences like these, small-town communities often are home to very deep and interconnected relationships. Because the community was so close-knit and everyone wanted to work together, the Cmelo family was able to relax and worry about more important things.
Thanks to everyone who made this kind donation a reality!
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