'My kids': West Bloomfield bus drivers deliver Christmas gifts after school closes

Anna Liz Nichols
Associated Press/ Report For America

Lansing –A school bus driver in suburban Detroit wasn’t going to let “her kids” get late Christmas gifts, even if the district suddenly had switched to remote learning because of a threat over social media.

Dawn Moles said the ornaments she made for West Bloomfield students couldn’t wait until in-person classes resume after the holidays and trees were taken down.

Moles got permission to drive her route Friday morning and let kids climb aboard to pick up gifts from their seats.

“My youngest, Alice, was so excited, it was like it was the night before Christmas. She was like, ‘I can’t wait, I can’t wait to wake up, I can’t go to sleep,’” said Julia Anderson Pulver, whose daughter regularly rides Moles’ bus.

Two other bus drivers in the West Bloomfield district delivered gifts to children.

Marlene Dillon, a driver for 17 years, said she wanted kids to get their presents on time; three on her route with December birthdays needed their birthday treat, too.

“They are my kids, I drive them every day,” Dillon said. “Everybody goes to school on Friday because they know they’re going to get a special treat from Ms. Marlene.”

West Bloomfield last Monday closed schools and sent students home due to a threat, the latest in a string of threats against Michigan schools since four students were killed at nearby Oxford High School on Nov 30. The threat turned out to be false but officials took no chances.

Moles said driving her route was difficult Monday.

“I became so emotional the rest of the route I had to blow my nose into my mask and put another one on the whole route,” she said. “It was horrifying and it messed me up for days.”

Dillon said she urged children after the Oxford shooting to speak up if they feel unsafe.

“I don’t want them to be on the bus being afraid,” Dillon said. “We have a happy bus every day.”

Anne Albarran said she had so many treats for her young passengers that she didn’t want to lug them onto her bus. She drove around in her car with superhero and Minions toothbrush kits, candy and popcorn.

“I thought this is going to be the second Christmas that I haven’t been able to do this because we were shut down last year,” Albarran said, referring to COVID-19. “I’m like, ‘This isn’t fair.’ So I just decided they’re gonna get their their presents on time this year.”

–––

Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.