A group of 25 autistic students and 21 school staffers got a generous surprise during a recent lunch outing when they discovered that their bill had been paid for by an anonymous stranger.
According to MyCentralJersey.com, five classes from Matthew Jago Elementary School in Sewaren, New Jersey, were on a May 6 field trip to Tex-Mex restaurant Jose Tejas in the nearby town of Iselin to belatedly celebrate Cinco de Mayo. At the end of the meal, instead of presenting the group of special education teachers, speech therapists, and teaching assistants with the $485 check, the manager informed them it had been taken care of.
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The Good Samaritan, who is reportedly a frequent patron of the restaurant, chose to remain nameless, but she did relay to a restaurant employee that she has a grandchild with special needs and wanted to show her appreciation for the hard-working professionals. “We all were just taken aback,” one of the teachers, Jeannette Gruskowski, told MyCentralJersey.com. “Nobody’s ever done such a generous, anonymous thing like that.”
The woman who paid the tab had left by the time the students and teachers had finished their meal, but because the grateful group didn’t get to say thank you in person, they’re trying to make sure their donor eventually gets the message.
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The autistic children — some of whom are verbal and some of whom use pictures, sign language, or tablets to communicate — have written a thank-you letter to the kindhearted grandma. They’re planning on getting Jose Tejas's management to hang it in the restaurant so whether she hears about it through word of mouth or on the news or sees it in person, the benefactor will know how appreciative the teachers and kids truly are.
Outings are especially beneficial for these students, Gruskowski explained, because they help the children apply the skills they’ve learned in the classroom in a more social setting. Because this excursion, which the students brought their own money to pay for, didn’t cost them anything, they’ll have an opportunity to take another one.
“Every day, it’s always trying to figure out what we can do to teach them according to their way of learning. It’s so rewarding when you see them getting a skill you’ve been teaching them — it’s worth it,” Gruskowski said. “It’s worth all the struggles and challenges.”