Cesar Punzalan was moved to tears.

Kids spend a lot of time at school. So it’s unsurprising that so many of us have fond memories of those good, kind teachers who went above and beyond their job descriptions to ensure we had a good experience during those formative years.

Sometimes, like in the case of this story, some of those teachers even did so despite hard things going on at home.

An Exemplary Teacher

man in an orange shirt

At the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Laguna, Philippines, a science teacher named Cesar Punzalan is a class favorite. Every year the 50-year-old teacher watches his students grow as he teaches them scientific concepts, never missing a day of work.

One day, his students learned why he is so dedicated. One of his kids at home was sick, and all of the money he made from the job went directly to his family.

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Furthermore, in order to get to work every day, Mr. Punzalan had to walk five miles each way. It was no wonder he had ratty, torn shoes that he continued to wear.

His Grade 12 students noticed the footwear, of course. But once they realized why he didn’t invest in new shoes, they decided to take action and pool their resources for new ones.

A Big Surprise

One day when Mr. Punzalan entered his classroom, he noticed a red-and-brown shoebox tied up with a ribbon on his desk. In a video taken by one of the students that was then posted by a parent on Facebook, the teacher became visibly emotional when he realized what his students had done for him.

“You didn’t have to do this. Why did you spend your money? In my profession as a teacher, we don’t expect anything in return,” Mr. Punzalan told the class in the video.

“You have helped us a lot since we were in Grade 9. That’s just our way of helping you a little bit. That’s nothing compared to what you have done for us and taught us,” one student replied.

A Meaningful Gift

In an interview with Coconuts Manila, a student named Mary Ann Claire Garcia revealed the kids just wanted to help the teacher because he left an impression on them.

“We gave him those shoes because we noticed he would always wear this pair that had holes and was falling apart,” Garcia said, as per Yahoo. “So our class president Lei Francis Marasigan thought we should all chip in and buy him a new pair.”

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She revealed the students believe that Mr. Punzalan doesn’t receive a high salary, and they think he’s just really careful with how he spends his money so that he can provide for his family.

“He didn’t really want to accept the shoes,” she continued. “He said he was not asking for anything in return [for working as a teacher]. He just wanted to share his knowledge. He cried a lot after I turned off the camera.”

Small Acts Make a Big Difference

Since the video was posted, it’s gone viral worldwide, and for good reason: there’s something really touching about watching a good person get a leg up. But the fact that teens were responsible for executing such a kind act makes it even better.

It’s a good reminder that kind acts can come from anyone and anywhere — no matter how old or young you are. They also don’t have to be grand, expensive gestures to be meaningful. Just look at how much one pair of shoes moved this teacher.

If you notice someone is having a hard time or is going above and beyond to do something good for the community, why not recognize them with a small gift, a card, or even just a big thank you? Not only will they appreciate being seen, but you’ll feel good knowing you helped to make someone’s day.