After noticing that her student doesn’t eat his lunch and frequently dumpster dives for food, a teacher becomes suspicious of him and decides to follow him. What she discovers along the way changes her life.
Sandra Elliot worked as a teacher at Summerville Charter School in Nashville, Tennessee. Academically, the woman was a Ph.D. scholar, but when she and her husband James were not blessed with children, she took up the job—much against what her academic qualification could have offered—so that she could be close to children.
Sandra had a sweet and kind demeanor, so all of her students adored her as much as she loved them. She was always trying to help them and was interested in their lives outside of school. Who knew her curiosity would lead her to discover something unexpected?
One day, when Sandra was walking past her classroom during lunch break, she noticed one of her students, 12-year-old Robin Hollister, sitting quietly in a corner, staring out the window intently. His lunch box was right in front of him, but he hadn’t even opened it, and he seemed quite lost.
Why is he not eating? Robin is always the one who looks forward to the lunch break the most. Is he not feeling well today? she wondered as she was about to approach him. But just then, the head teacher, Mrs. Anderson, called her, and she had to leave.
The next day, before the lunch break arrived, Sandra had made a mental note to ask Robin why he didn’t eat his lunch the previous day, but when she arrived in class, he was nowhere to be seen. She looked out the window and noticed Robin walking away with his lunch and a plastic bag in his hand.
Sandra left the class quickly and followed Robin quietly, only to discover the boy dumpster diving, vigorously collecting leftovers from the bin and stuffing them into the bag.
“Oh dear,” she gasped, covering her mouth in shock. “Why is the boy doing that?”
Suddenly, Robin looked up from the dustbin, scanning the area for anyone who might have noticed him, and hurried away.
Sandra wanted to follow the boy and ask him why he was doing that, but there were still a few classes left before her shift ended, so she decided to confront Robin the next day. But unfortunately, as the lunch break arrived the following day, Robin disappeared again.
She looked out the window, but he wasn’t there this time, and when she dashed behind the school to the dumpster, he wasn’t there either. Dejected, she continued walking past the dumpster and suddenly noticed Robin crossing the street with the same bag he’d used for filling leftovers.
I will find out where this boy goes every day. I’m pretty sure there’s something he’s been hiding all along! Sandra texted the principal about her absence from school, citing health reasons, and took a local taxi to follow the boy.
Christmas was only a few days away at this point. Sandra knew that if she told the principal, she needed leave for any reason other than her health, she would be denied because there was a lot of work to be done for the upcoming Christmas function at school. So the woman had no choice but to lie, even though she didn’t want to.
As she sat in the taxi, she asked the driver to drive slow so Robin wouldn’t notice her. She could see the boy was happily strolling the street with leftovers, but she had no clue why he was doing that.
Suddenly, Robin entered a narrow lane where Sandra could no longer take the taxi. So she got down and followed the boy until he came to a halt in front of a dilapidated old house.
Sandra hid in an alley not far from the house, watching Robin, who hurried away after leaving the bag and his lunch box on the doorstep. She decided to approach him from behind and confront him, but then the door to the old house opened and two children, a boy and a girl, emerged. The girl appeared to be Robin’s age or older, but the boy seemed to be no older than five.
Curious about who they were, Sandra began walking towards the house when she noticed a woman step out of the house. She looked like a complete mess, with her tattered appearance, messy hair, and a stern expression on her face. Sandra could see that the kids’ happy expressions faded as they turned and looked at the woman.
“How many times have I told you not to go out of the house without my permission? You kids are as useless as your father! He never listened to me, and now it’s you two, brats!” she yelled at the children, holding their ears and twisting them to the point that the kids began crying in pain.
“Mom! Please don’t do that, please!” the girl cried. “It’s hurting.”
“Yes, mommy! We’re sorry,” the little boy added.
Sandra couldn’t stand it any longer when she saw the woman insulting the children and decided to confront her. However, as she approached the woman, she detected a strong odor of alcohol.
“What kind of a mother are you?” she said with a stern look on her face. “I know they’re your children, and I shouldn’t be interfering, but can’t you see they’re in pain?”
“And who the hell are you to interfere? THEY ARE MY KIDS. I WILL DO WHATEVER I WANT!” the woman retorted.
Suddenly, the children yanked their ears free from their mother’s grasp and crept behind Sandra. “Please help us. She doesn’t feed us, and whatever money we have at home, she spends that on alcohol. Father abandoned us because he was tired of her. Please don’t leave us alone with her!” the girl begged her.
“Don’t be worried, okay?” Sandra comforted the little girl. “She isn’t going to hurt you any longer!”
Sandra quickly grabbed her phone and texted James the address, asking him to come right away. He was a Tennessee state police officer, and luckily, his team had been making rounds in the neighborhood where Sandra was. Within seconds, he and his teammates arrived and rescued the children.
The woman named Catherine was arrested on accounts of child abuse, and when the cops searched her home, they discovered not only bottles of alcohol but also a briefcase filled with stacks of cash, which she’d apparently received after taking out all of the insurance money the children’s father had left for them.
Sandra and James took the kids, Jessica and Spencer, to the police station, where the children recorded their statements, and then to their home, where Sandra washed, fed, and dressed them.
Later that evening, as Sandra and James sat beside the children while they were sleeping, they decided they’d adopt them and give them a new life. They’d been trying for kids for years, and finally, God chose to bless them with not one but two beautiful children!
On the other hand, Catherine, who’d been abusive to her kids, lost her parental rights and was sentenced to imprisonment by the court. In contrast to that, Robin, who had decided to help Jessica and Spencer, was praised for his bravery and kindness by the school principal during the Christmas function.
It turned out, the boy was running away with the leftovers every day during lunch break without telling anyone as he was worried his mom would scold him if she found out he was helping Jessica and Spencer. She’d warned him to stay away from the kids because Catherine was an alcoholic and didn’t seem like the right kind of woman. But thankfully, through Robin’s act, his mother realized in the end that she should’ve helped Jessica and Spencer instead of avoiding them.
So, on Christmas Eve, she invited Sandra, her husband, and the children to her home and prepared a delicious Christmas dinner for them, consisting of honey-glazed ham, green bean casserole, and her signature roast turkey and gravy.
All of them had a lovely dinner together, sharing stories about each other’s lives and praising Robin for not only doing the right thing but also for bringing a miracle on Christmas Eve in the lives of two children who were living a miserable life.
What can we learn from this story?
Sometimes a child can do something brilliant, which leaves a massive lesson for us elders. Robin aiding Jessica and Spencer made his mother realize that she was wrong for telling Robin to stay away from them and not help them.
A small act of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life. Here, Robin’s act of taking food for the children not only helped them escape their horrible mother but also provided them with a lovely new home and the joy of becoming children to Sandra and James.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man who spots a homeless woman eating from a dumpster and recognizes the sweetheart he lost 53 years ago.