12-year-old Gabrielle Howell is the beloved daughter of a high school teacher – so when all she wanted for Christmas was her own school bus for playtime, her mother’s students decided to rise to the occasion.
Diagnosed with a rare brain disorder known as bilateral periventricular nodular heterotopia, which causes Gabrielle to mentally develop much slower than other children. Although she exhibits the mind of a 3-year-old, Gabby is still adored by all her mom’s students.
Once she discovered a local bus for sale, Jessica created a GoFundMe campaign to cover its purchase and the costs for renovation. She next had the vehicle towed to the school’s football field where a team of volunteers worked every day to revitalize the shabby machine.
By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, the students – with a little help from Santa – had parked the bus in the Howell family’s yard. What was once a crumbling hunk of junk had become a cozy little clubhouse complete with chairs, art supplies, curtains, and carpeting. Gabby has reportedly barely left the sanctuary since its delivery on Christmas.
Jessica, meanwhile, reflected that she was just happy to help the teacher and her family.
“She really goes above and beyond every single day for her students. She stays after hours, she works through her lunch,” Jessica told Today. “[And Gabby] is so sweet and wants to give everybody hugs. She’s just friends with everybody.”
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Reprint (Photo by Jessica Smith)