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Steve Culbert didn’t want the grieving sisters to miss out.

Losing a parent at any age is hard. Losing a parent when you’re younger means you miss out on some of the traditional things families get to experience — like a father-daughter school dance.

Unfortunately, Avery Reece and her younger sister Alivia had lost their father before their school dance, but one kind teacher stepped in to help.

What One Teacher Did for Two of His Students

Photo by Max Fischer

Fourth-grade teacher Steve Culbert at Gates Elementary School in Davison, Michigan changed careers after his daughters were born, dedicating his life to teaching. But it was back when he taught second grade and he met Avery and her family, however, that his own life changed.

“I tell all of my students right from the get-go, right from Day 1 when you start building a relationship with them, that they’re like family,” Culbert told CBS News. “I get to know my students; I get to know their families.”

RELATED: Father Doesn’t Show Up for Dad-Daughter Dance for the Second Time – His Son Has the Best Response

In September 2018, he learned that Avery’s father, Luke, had become ill. He had a medical condition that led to blood clots, and in late August, one clot caused him to have a heart attack. He was hospitalized.

“I got to know him,” Culbert told the publication. “I asked Shelley [his wife] if I could visit him in the hospital.” He visited and brought presents from the other teachers. “It was just really unsettling seeing him laying there,” the educator added.

That night, after visiting Luke, Culbert came home and asked his own two daughters about inviting the Reece girls to go to the recently announced daddy-daughter dance with them. The girls (first-grader Aliyah and third-grader Hailey) were excited and made invitations to give to their classmates.

That same day, Luke was taken off life support and died. Culbert felt a stronger bond to the Reece girls than ever.

“As a kid, when I was in school, I lost a brother to cancer,” he explained. “I’m not trying to say I know how these girls feel or how any other students feel when they go through something like that, but I just don’t want any of my students to feel like they’re alone. That’s what drives me; that’s what motivates me.”

How Two Little Girls Had a Very Special Night

Photo by Ron Lach

Culbert wanted to make the daddy-daughter dance extra special for the four girls, given everything the Reece sisters had just gone through. So he booked a limo, which the company helped him to secure at a discounted price. He also found someone to donate her time to do the girls’ hair and nails.

Another parent stepped in to buy the sisters new dresses, and yet another picked up corsages. The day of, Culbert took everyone for a special breakfast at Tim Hortons before they were pampered, then to McDonald’s for lunch. As word spread, the community came together with donations totaling $500, which Culbert then gave to the girls’ mom to help with expenses.

RELATED: Little Girl Whose Dad Died Can’t Attend Father-Daughter Dance – Until a Call Changes Everything

“It went so, so good. I couldn’t ask for it to be any better, except for the girls to have their dad there,” Culbert said.

Finally, at the dance, the group released heart-shaped balloons that said #BeLikeLuke to honor Luke Reece — an organ donor who helped 65 people after his death.

“I wanted to let them know their dad is here with them today. And I’m not trying to be their dad; I’m just trying to be here with them,” Culbert said. “If anyone is inspired by this story, I want them to be inspired by him.”

How a Teacher Proved the Importance of Giving the Gift of Time

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok

Luke Reece obviously inspired Culbert, but Culbert’s generosity is equally inspiring to many. That’s because he gave the Reece sisters the gift of his time — something we all only have a finite amount of. Most of us don’t know how much time we have, making it one of our most precious commodities.

That’s why volunteering your time to someone in need can be so meaningful. Checking in on those going through a rough patch, spending your time at a shelter or an organization, or planning events and other ways to help others are all ways to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Culbert knew that those little girls just needed someone to be there for them, and now they’ll have a cherished memory for life.

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