Mark Schneider and his family had a heartfelt surprise in store for a very special person Monday.
“Over the last year and a half, just talking to him every day, he’s always got a little spring in his step, he’s just got a smile on his face and he’s so nice to the kids,” said Schneider.
Crossing guard Walter Spano can be found outside Payne Junior High School in Queen Creek, rain or shine, welcoming children and making sure they safely navigate their way to campus.
“We want to let him know how special he is, so I’m writing, 'you are such a kind soul,'” said Schneider's wife, Lisa.
Over the past few weeks, the Schneiders launched a GoFundMe campaign to make sure Spano got an unexpected Christmas wish. They are hoping to raise enough for him to be able to fly out to California and see his granddaughter for the very first time.
“You know, just times are tight, and it was tough and he just didn’t have the finances to go visit and I was like, oh man, I just want this guy to be able to go visit or at least have some extra money so he can have a nice Christmas,” said Schneider.
Schneider and his family donated the first $300 towards the campaign. Using social media to get the word out, others poured in as well.
“I’m really excited, I hope he gets to have a good Christmas and spend time with his family,” said Schneider's young daughter, Ava.
As storm clouds began to clear Monday morning, the Schnieders delivered their gift.
“You’ve got a great heart and you’ve been nice enough to open up about your life and share things with us, so we got you a little card here, you can open that up... I talk to the kids that know you and say that you’re like the nicest, sweetest guy ever and we just want to give you something to make your Christmas a little better,” said Schneider to Spano.
Along with a handwritten note was a check for $2,200.
“They start as strangers and they come, and you meet them, you have a relationship that lasts a few seconds, but throughout the years it grows, and you see how it grows to love,” said Spano, who was floored by the gesture.
It’s a love spawning a truly selfless act of generosity from a community for a man they say is deserving of every bit of it.
“I’m gonna go call my son really fast, like real fast, let him know I’ll be coming soon,” said Spano. “This is just incredible.”
The fundraiser will remain active for a few more days to raise any additional funds.