LAKEWOOD, Colo. - A Colorado teacher busy working her third job was brought to tears by the kindness of a stranger.
Amanda Garner works as a cashier at a Lakewood, Colorado, grocery store two days a week trying to make ends meet. She's also a full-time elementary school teacher.
Garner said she spent the first half of the day last week rallying at the state Capitol for better pay for educators.
Later that day she began her third job as a cashier and was pleasantly surprised by an interaction with a man who was also rallying that day.
"A six-year teacher with a master's degree, I'm working in a checkout line in a grocery store and that's frustrating," Garner told KDVR.
She works at the store two days a week and tutors after school three days a week.
"I knew that I would never get rich in this profession, and I never really wanted to. But I didn’t realize here in Colorado, with an economy that is what it is, that it would be so hard," Garner said.
She said student loans, rent, and car payments make up 74 percent of her take-home pay. Bills make up about 11 percent and she estimates only 15 percent is left for essentials such as food and gas.
But she said her job is rewarding to her.
"Every day I walk into the classroom and I have 24 faces of kids who look at me and what I can give them is what can set them up for success for the rest of their lives and that's a pretty awesome feeling," Garner said.
An awesome feeling one of her grocery store customers understood. He had been rallying at the Capitol that day alongside his wife who is a teacher.
"He just expressed a lot of gratitude and appreciation for what it takes to be a teacher," Garner said.
He shook her hand and thanked her, then about an hour later he came back to buy some cookies.
She said he presented her with an envelope. Inside was $100 cash. Touched by the generous gesture, Garner said she cried tears of joy.
"He didn't have to do that. He didn't have to say anything. But the kindness that he showed not only from the conversation but for him to come back, made all the difference in the world," Garner said.
Garner said the $100 will cover a week's worth of groceries.