It was just a week ago that Karen Klein was sitting on a bus enduring the teasing and taunts of a group of kids with a grace that wouldn”t be recognized until days later, when a video of the incident went viral.
Now, thanks to an online fundraising effort, the upstate New York bus monitor, 68, has more than $645,275 (and counting) to her name from people – total strangers, mostly – who saw the video, heard the hurtful words and wanted to help.
“I keep thinking, “What have I done” ” the Greece Central School District employee said during an in-studio interview on Monday”s Today show. “It”s like I almost don”t feel like I deserve it.”
The campaign, originally intended to send her off on “a vacation of a lifetime,” has long surpassed its goal of $5,000.
So how will she use her money “What would anybody do with that much money” she said.
She”ll invest some, she said, and donate to charity. The grandmother of eight has plenty of family, and “they need, they need, they need,” added Klein, who isn”t sure if she”ll return to her job come fall.
But for Klein, who has since received apologies from some of the students on the bus, the outpouring of support has spanned beyond dollar signs.
“What I am glad about is the fact that it has come out, and everyone knows what goes on,” she said. “I”ve gotten so many notes from people who have been bullied, who”ve been very hurt, and my heart goes out to these people.”
She added: “I”d like to contact every one of them and tell them how sorry I am.”