A US grandmother can afford much more than a vacation after a viral video of her harassment by a busload of schoolchildren precipitated a collection of more than $500,000 from online philanthropists.
A 10-minute mobile phone video of bus monitor Karen Klein, age 68, being insulted by 12 and 13-year-old students was posted to YouTube Tuesday. The video shows the students poking Klein, calling her "fat ass" and "asshole" en route to their middle school in Greece, New York.
Shortly after the video went viral, a campaign appeared on fund-raising site indiegogo.com aiming to give Klein a vacation. The goal sum was $5,000, but as of Friday at noon, Klein's holiday fund had received $518,876, well over 100 times the goal. There are still 29 days left to for donations.
At one point in the video, the schoolchildren mocked Klein's purse, with one off-camera voice asking how much it cost, "because I want to know how poor you are."
"You're so fucking poor, you fat ass," another student said.
The indiegogo.com site reports that Klein makes an annual income of $15,506, not "nearly enough to deal with some of the trash she is surrounded by."
"Let's give her something she will never forget, a vacation of a lifetime."
Klein told television broadcaster NBC that she had been picked on before by her young charges.
"They just could be really nasty," she said. "I want the boys punished, but I don't know how."
As for the outpouring of support, Klein said she was "amazed."
"I've got, I don't know, the nicest letters, emails, Facebook messages," she said. "And it's like, wow, there's a whole world out there that I didn't know. It's just really awesome."
School authorities, meanwhile, have said the four students involved in the taunting would be disciplined.
The young harassers, whose names and phone numbers surfaced online, were also getting a dose of unwanted attention from the public.
Greece police captain Steve Chatterton told AFP that one student's cell phone had received 700 threatening messages.
"We are trying to get people to stop because it really serves no purpose," the chief said, adding it was no different from the bullying on the bus.