An online campaign set up by a Toronto man for Karen Klein, a 68-year-old U.S. bus monitor mercilessly bullied by schoolchildren in a viral video, has raised almost half a million dollars.
By Friday morning, the total had reached US$470,000. The tally continues to continues to climb.
Max Sidorov, once a bullied child himself, set up the campaign Wednesday morning after being shocked at the treatment handed out to Ms. Klein, who makes US$15,000 a year. The video of her being harassed and taunted has been seen nearly four million times on YouTube.
Toronto man raises $387K for elderly bus monitor bullied by students in viral video
The aim was to raise a modest US$5,000 to send Ms. Klein on a dream vacation, but by late Thursday his campaign had already garnered US$387,877.
“It is ridiculously more than I expected,” said Mr. Sidorov in an interview with the National Post. “I just had an idea. It’s the people who took it and ran with it.”
Once a bullied kid himself, Max Sidorov set up an online fundraising campaign on Wednesday morning to send Ms. Klein — who makes roughly $15,000 per year — on a vacation.
Mr. Sidorov, 25, a kinesiologist and nutritionist, added, “I really felt almost heartbroken to see that people would do such a thing to a nice lady. So, I just thought I had to do something about it.”
It’s unclear if Ms. Klein will have to pay taxes on the money because it is a collection of many small gifts. One of her supporters started a petition to have any taxes on the money waived.
The video, shot on a bus in Greece, N.Y., records four Grade 7 boys peppering the grandmother with insults; calling her fat, taunting her for sweating and asking her if she has a sexually transmitted disease. Ms. Klein, a widow, tries to ignore the taunts but at one point in the video she breaks down in tears.
Officials from the Greece Central School District said they saw the “troubling” 10-minute video and notified the local police who were conducting an investigation.
Ms. Klein, who works at Greece Athena Middle School, told ABC News she had no intention of quitting her job. She also told local police she did not want the students to face criminal charges.
Criminally charging the boys would require their conduct to rise to the level of a crime, Greece Police Capt. Steve Chatterton said. So far, it had not been found to reach that level.
Klein doesn’t want children charged
Klein has told police she does not want the boys to face criminal charges.
The 68-year-old told police she is happy with the swift and strong community response against the verbal attack aboard the bus, authorities said Thursday.
Criminally charging the boys, all seventh-graders, would require their conduct to rise to the level of a crime, Greece Police Capt. Steve Chatterton said. So far, it has not been found to reach that level.
Ms. Klein said she hoped the boys’ parents would view the video of the attack and talk to their children about being “a little more respectful.” Parents of all four boys are co-operating fully and say their children will be punished, Capt. Chatterton said.
Ms. Klein told NBC’s Today show, “I’m not usually that calm. Just ask my kids. I’m sure they don’t act that way at home, but you never know what they’re going to do when they’re out of the house.”
She expressed gratitude over the show of public support for her.
“I’m so amazed,” she said. “I’ve got these nice letters, emails, Facebook messages. It’s like, wow, there’s a whole world out there that I didn’t know. It’s really awesome.”
Mr. Sidorov, meanwhile, has received calls from CNN and the Los Angeles Times. He hopes to meet Ms. Klein or talk to her on the phone in the next few days.
“I’ve spoken to [Ms. Klein’s] sister a few times,” Mr. Sidorov said. “They love it. They are really surprised. They didn’t expect it to happen. [Ms. Klein] is everywhere now.”
His campaign was created using the crowd-funding tool Indiegogo.com, which allows users to make donations for specific projects or causes using a credit card. The money is held the length of the campaign, in this case, 30 days.
“I just can’t stand when someone picks on the little guy, you know, because I was always the little guy,” said Mr. Sidorov, who came to Canada from Ukraine in 1995.
National Post, with files from The Associated Press