After the photo of a boy being shamed at school for his tardiness surfaced on social media, the Oregon community banded together to do something amazing so that he would never be late again!
Hunter Cmelo, of Grants Pass, Oregon, then 6, was flipping out, as he was running late for school one morning in 2015.
“I’m gonna be tardy. I’m going to get lunch detention,” Hunter told his mother, Nicole Garloff, according to KFOR-TV. “Mom, we gotta hurry up.”
“[The school has] a policy where every three tardies, you get a detention,” Garloff told ABC News. “Every tardy after that, you get a detention.”
Fearful about getting a detention, Hunter, a first-grader at Lincoln Elementary School, was crying when he entered school that morning. Hence, Garloff decided to check on him during lunchtime. To her dismay, Garloff found Hunter sitting in isolation.
“He was at the first table as you walk into the cafeteria, and he was just sitting there with one of those cardboard poster partitions in front of him … and two or three books next to him,” Garloff said.
To add to the boy’s embarrassment, his cup even had a large black “D” written on it. Garloff was upset and took a picture of Hunter in that miserable situation with her iPad. Hunter’s grandmother, Laura Hoover, then posted the photo showing the controversial punishment on Facebook.
GOOD NEWS! When a photo of a boy who was punished at school for being late went viral, the community worked together to…
However, Hunter’s tardiness wasn’t entirely his fault—their family car often broke down, and on that day, the car again had some issues. His mother also has osteoporosis. “It causes a lot of pain and in the morning, it’s especially hard for me to get going,” Garloff said. “He wasn’t tardy so many times that he deserved that.”
In the post, Hoover explained: “Yesterday, he was 1 minute late and this is what his momma discovered they do to punish him! They have done this to him 6 times for something that is out of this baby’s control!”
The photo soon went viral and sparked outrage online.
First-grader Hunter Cmelo was forced to eat his lunch alone behind a cardboard divider after he was late to school.
A local radio personality, Bill Meyer, heard about the story and contacted Lisa McClease Kelly, who owns Kelly’s Automotive, to get the family’s Dodge Durango fixed. However, it turned out the repairs would cost more than the car’s worth.
So a local company, Rapid Repo and Collections, donated a 2001 Chrysler Town and Country van. Besides the US$1,400 worth of maintenance by McClease Kelly, other local businesses also chipped in to install a new windshield and two new tires on the minivan. On top of that, two people donated $60 for gift cards, The Oregonian reported.
When McClease Kelly handed the minivan to Hunter’s father, Mark Cmelo, he was speechless.
“We thought we were going there to be told that our Durango was not going to be fixable at all,” Garloff said. “We were so shocked, it doesn’t seem real.”
“We’re so thankful to all the people in our community that have just been so supportive,” she added.
Thanks to this amazing community endeavor, the school’s cardboard wall punishment was taken down, and Hunter has never been tardy since the family got the minivan!