The image of Santa Claus emblazoned in a child’s mind is usually one of a jovial, portly man with a white beard clad in a red and white suit; however, this year, Santa came early to one Texas elementary school in the form of a bus driver.
Curtis Jenkins, a school bus driver for Lake Highlands Elementary School in the Dallas area, spread Christmas cheer to the 70 youngsters on his bus route during their ride home Friday, the last day of classes before winter break. His big yellow bus brimmed over with wrapped presents purchased by Jenkins.
“When I opened the door, one of the kids asked me, ‘Are you Santa?'” said Jenkins in an interview Sunday with KXAS.
The school bus driver planned this holiday surprise over several months. Originally, Jenkins said he wanted to host a gift exchange but when his wife Shaneqia pointed out that some of the students might not be able to afford to buy a present, Jenkins decided to play Santa. Innocently, he asked the children what they wanted for Christmas. Jenkins said his only goal was to make every child on school bus #1693 in the Richardson Independent School District feel valued and loved.
“Seeing the faces of those kids was more than anything I could ever do with the money,” said Jenkins who set aside a little of his paycheck each month to buy the gifts. His wife helped him wrap all of the gifts last week.
Jenkins, who has worked in the school district for seven years, reminisced about being the child who did not receive much for Christmas. He recounted how his an aunt would give him a pack of socks each year. “When you’re going to school and you have a hole in your socks, that new pair of socks meant something to you,” said Jenkins.
His generosity did not go unnoticed. Over the weekend, Lake Highlands Elementary posted on Facebook, “This is Curtis Jenkins, a bus driver for our school. He asked every kid on the bus what they wanted for Christmas and then bought it for them! There was even a bike on that bus!!! This reminds us how much good there is in the world and how we should all strive to be a little more like Curtis.”
Lake Highlands Elementary PTA President Jennifer Wilcox told KXAS she learned about Jenkins’ holiday gift giving surprise on Sunday. She called him a wonderful example to everyone.
Seems, though, this Santa had a few elves. Wilcox said a select few in Richardson ISD found about about this Santa’s plans and supplemented his budget. One parent gave him $100 to buy gifts.
Katrina Clift, whose 11-year-old son received a pair headphones, called Jenkins the “most amazing bus driver.” She said: “He’s always good to him and all the kids on the bus.”
Clift noted another one of Jenkins’ acts of kindness. In November, he bought her family a Thanksgiving turkey, something which brought her to tears. “I hung up the phone with him, I went over to my husband and I put my head on his chest and I just cried.”
However, if you ask Jenkins, his good deeds merely reflect his “calling.”
“I’m not at a job, I’m on a mission from God,” said Jenkins. “I don’t say anything about religion to the kids. I just let them know whatever they love is fine with me, just love somebody on the way.”