Inspired by Billionaire Robert F. Smith’s recent announcement that he'd be wiping out student debt for Morehouse College’s 2019 graduating class, Season Bennett thought to herself — how could she pitch in?
Bennett owns Headlines Barbershop in North Carolina with her husband, Derrick. They have no connection to East Mecklenburg High School, the faculty or any of the students. Its just located near the shop.
"Obviously on a smaller scale. East Meck High School is right here in our own backyard, so I just thought, let me just call and find out if there are any graduating seniors who aren't going to be able to graduate because they owe fees," Bennett told InsideEdition.com. "And I felt like the finance secretary was literally waiting for my call. Like I could hear her in the background counting up her change."
Bennett said the finance secretary told her the outstanding balance amounted to about $4,500 for 14-16 students. “I just said, 'OK, let me call you back. Let me see what I can do,’" Bennett said.
“And I've never done GoFundMe before, this is my first time, and so I went ahead and started a GoFundMe account and I just recorded a little video."
In the video, Bennett makes a plea to the community for people to donate what they could.
She had just one week to raise the money.
Her request did not fall on deaf ears. Shortly after Bennett started the GoFundMe page, the goal was met.
"One of the students actually sent me a text message. And she said, 'Thank you so much, I no longer have to worry about graduating, you know, I really appreciate this, I'd love to come meet you guys one day.'"
For her efforts, Bennett earned herself an invitation to the graduation ceremony.
"Then I got to meet some of the students in person. I got lots of hugs from them, they got lots of tears from me,” Bennett laughed. “It was great."
Remaining students will also benefit from Bennett’s donation. She said they wound up raising more than $7,000 — far surpassing their original $4,500 goal.
The excess cash will go toward covering the rest of the funding for the school's anti-suicide campaign.
Bennett is no stranger to community service. She will hold her seventh annual food drive this year, she has held toiletry drives for the local Salvation Army and she has held events to raise awareness about lupus.
Bennett calls the whole thing overwhelming, hoping that now she too can inspire someone else to pay it forward.
"I just think that it just shows that everyone is just so anxious and just thirsty for positivity and people want to be a part of it. So I think it's awesome and I hope that it inspires other people to want to do something good in their community for somebody that they don't know.”