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Elon University Students Raise Money To Send Beloved Cafe Employee to Disney World [WATCH]


Today in “Mankind is better than you think,” a bunch of university students decided to raise over $6,000 to send a beloved cafe employee to Disney World, a lifetime dream of hers.

At Elon University, Acorn employee Kathryn Thompson had her world turned upside down when students sprung a surprise on her: that the student body had funded a trip to Disney World for herself and her family.

It all started when two students, junior Taylor Zisholtz and freshman Lucy Smith-Williams, went into the coffee shop, separately, late at night. Thompson struck up a conversation with them, and when Thompson learned that Taylor was from Florida, she got excited and immediately started asking questions about Disney World, how long it takes to get there, and how much it cost to go.

The girls learned that it was Kathryn’s dream to take her family to Disney World, but that she had never been able to afford it, nor had she ever left Elon. She is a fixture at the university and a “stable employee,” according to the school’s newspaper The Pendulum. “She’s been here for a long time,” Glenn Austin, Acorn’s assistant location manager said. “She’s dependable. She hardly ever calls off and is a stable employee for the night shift.”

She’s also carved quite a place in the hearts of the university’s students.

When the conversation ended, Taylor and Lucy, who were virtual strangers before they met at the coffee shop, began “brainstorming ideas because I looked at her and was like, ‘We’re doing this, we can do this, we have to do something,’” Taylor told The Pendulum.

And do something they did. The girls created a GoFundMe page after figuring out exactly how much money it would cost to send Kathryn and her family to Disney World. The university’s students responded with enthusiasm, and the cause raised over half of the money within three days.



Taylor explained her motivation for the act of kindness to the Elon Local News:

 “Just from talking to her, she was very invested in where we were from, what we were doing and when she said ‘it’s my dream,’ I thought well there’s 6,000 people here with at least a dollar. We could probably make this happen.”

Such a simple gesture, with such powerful, life-changing results. Everyday acts of kindness are what life should be about.

Taylor told Elon Local News that the cause was so popular also because the student body loved Kathryn, and were eager to see her dreams come true.

 “Everyone knows Acorn, everyone eats their cookies, everyone’s been there a million times. It’s Elon, it’s their school, it’s their stomping ground, it’s something they can link to and it’s doing good for someone, and who doesn’t like doing good?”

The girls were able to record the moment that they revealed to Kathryn that her dream was about to come true. The video above shows Kathryn brimming with tears, thanking the two girls who made this happen, and sort of incredulous.

They also presented her with bags of merchandise that had been donated: t-shirts and other Disney paraphernalia for Kathryn’s son, daughter, and grandsons.

Kathryn has yet to pick a date to take her family to Orlando to the happiest place on earth, but we’re sure that this will be something she’ll never forget, all thanks to the kindness of two girls, and the banding together of a community.

Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.

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