Friday, June 22, 2012

The Internet comes through: more than $550K donated toward 'bullied bus monitor's vacation

If the cause is just enough, it seems the Internet can do just about anything. In the case of Karen Klein, a widowed bus monitor for the Greece School District in Greece, N.Y., redemption comes in the form of an online donation campaign that was supposed to raise $5,000 in 30 days, but that has raised over $550,000 at the time of this writing, with 28 days to go.

Karen's story began sadly just a couple of days ago, as a video showing student bullies on a school bus harassing the 23-year-veteran of the district, calling her an "ugly fat ass" and telling her (remember, she is a widow), "you don't have a family because they all killed themselves because they don't want to be near you."

The outpouring of support was great, and Max Sidorov started a fundraising campaign on Wednesday morning, hoping to raise $5,000 for a vacation for Klein. The Internet surged past that number in just five hours.

Although the money is tax-free anyway (these are gifts, meaning there are no taxes unless the annual gift limit is reached, and even then, the tax would be paid by the donor, not Karen), not everyone knew that. So a petition was started on Change.Org asking President Obama to let Klein receive the donations tax-free. 7,500-plus people signed it, anyway.

At the same time, Anderson Cooper announced a surprise: Southwest Airlines is going to pay for Klein and nine of her family members - or friends - to go to Disneyland for three nights. Thus, a horrible incident hasn't turned out all that badly for Klein; we'd expect that over $500,000 in funds amounts to "more than a few years" of wages.

Speaking of Anderson Cooper, it seems the four kids who bullied Karen in the video have been receiving death threats. Apologies to her from at least two of them have been issued, through Anderson Cooper via local police.

Additionally, early Thursday evening, one of the boy's fathers visited Klein to assure her that his son would be punished. It's unclear if that was the father of one of the boys who apologized to local police.

If you haven't seen the bullying video yet, you're among the few who haven't. You can view it below, but be warned: you'll see explicit language and disturbing behavior.

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