The kindness of strangers can be quite powerful. That’s a touching lesson that Verna DeSpain, a single mother of two from Tennessee, recently learned after a substitute bus driver randomly offered to build a ramp free-of-charge for her daughter, who is in a wheelchair.
It all started one morning late last year when Thomas Mitchell, a school bus mechanic who sometimes fills in as a substitute driver, noticed DeSpain struggling to carry her third-grade daughter Lydia’s wheelchair down the stairs of her front porch. While some people might have observed the sight, felt bad and moved on, Mitchell just couldn’t forget what he saw, CBS News reported.
So, he decided to take action, offering to build the mother a ramp that would make it easier for her to bring Lydia, 10, in and out of the family home. DeSpain was shocked by the random phone call and the generous offer.
“There was just hardly any room for her to maneuver this wheelchair,” Mitchell said in a Facebook video produced by the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System in Clarksville, Tennessee. “It just didn’t seem right for somebody to have to struggle like that.”
Mitchell gathered friends and tools and convinced a local Lowe’s store to donate the materials needed to build the ramp; he also spent months planning the project before showing up with his co-workers and friends to beginning construction, according to CBS News.
Prior to Mitchell’s kind gesture, DeSpain only had a temporary ramp she said wasn’t the safest or most efficient. Still, it was all she could afford at the time.
“I just never thought anyone would even take notice. It’s those little things that people take for granted,” DeSpain told WREG-TV. “And maybe I didn’t even realize my predicament, because I’m so used to doing it solo.”
Now, she’s expressing her gratitude for Mitchell, saying the family finally has easy access for both exiting and coming into the home.
“It’s a major blessing,” she told CBS News. “This is the best year my children and I have ever had.”
The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System praised Mitchell as a “difference maker” on its Facebook page, noting that two other mechanics, Mike Greene and Anthony Puckett, and two community members named Randall Puckett and Nicholas Puckett also took part in helping build the ramp.
Mitchell’s wife, Jennifer, also posted a Facebook message last month showering praise upon Mitchell and expressing how proud she is of his kind deed. Watch the video she shared below:
Now, Mitchell has a message for others, challenging individuals to do something similar for people in need in their communities.
“Everybody should be helping out their neighbor,” he said. “There’s no greater feeling.”
(H/T: CBS News)
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