Students at a Texas high school made one special needs student’s Christmas by giving him a properly-fitting pair of shoes.
JR Gilbert, a Somerset High School student normally wears size 10.5 boots to school, but his shoe size is actually size 13, Somerset Independent School District (ISD) officials posted on the district’s Facebook page. Gilbert, who is a special needs student at the high school, was surprised when his classmates got together and bought him two pairs of new size 13 shoes.
A video of the gift exchange capturing Gilbert’s excitement as he opened the shoes, was posted by the district on Friday. It has now been viewed nearly 5.6 million times as of the time of this publication.
“So fellow Somerset Bulldogs students raised money to surprise JR on Friday, December 15 with not one but TWO brand new pairs of sneakers that are the right size for Christmas!,” the district posted.
“Grab a tissue… because THIS is the Magic of Christmas!,” officials stated.
“It’s from all of us,” classmate Roger Villegas told Gilbert in the video. “Everybody here gave ’em to you.”
Gilbert can be heard exclaiming his joy as he opens the two boxes of shoes. He immediately said they were his favorite kind. An even larger smile erupted as he saw the color, “my favorite color,” he exclaimed.
When a local news station heard about the story, they sent reporters to talk with the students who made this young boy’s Christmas extra special. KSAT ABC12 spoke with Villegas and fellow classmates Salvador Solis and Martin Ramos who organized the fundraising for the shoes.
“Like it’s Christmas, so I mean I think everybody deserves to have one of those Christmases where everybody deserves to be happy,” Solis told the local ABC affiliate, “and he’s also our friend.”
It turned out, Gilbert has been wearing the smaller boots because they were his grandfather’s boots and his grandfather can no longer wear them.
“It’s not about needing it,” Gilbert’s mother, Linda Gilbert, told the reporters. “It’s something he wanted, and these boys basically granted a wish he wanted.”
Through the process of raising the money and watching Gilbert’s reaction as he opened the boxes, the boys learned a valuable lesson about the adage that it is “better to give than receive.”
“It really touched my heart. I mean I’m pretty sure it touched everybody’s heart seeing somebody react like that,” Solis said. “It’s something special. It’s something to remember.”