Wayne Price has been driving a school bus for five years, but his faith is what really drives to him to do everything in his life.
During the early morning of Dec. 11, the last week before schools in Montevallo, Alabama, closed for winter break, Price got a phone call that his school would be opening 2 hours later due to bad weather, including icy conditions and fog. For many children in other cities, school delays and closures are a cause for celebration. But a delayed opening in Montevallo also means that many children will not be able to get breakfast at the school cafeteria — or any morning meal at all.
A spokesperson at Montevallo Elementary School told TODAY Food that data from the 2018-2019 school year showed 75 percent of the school's children participate in the National School Lunch Program, a federal program that ensures kids from low-income families will be able to eat lunch and breakfast at a free or reduced price during the school day.
Price was already awake when he got news about the delay and immediately understood the implications of breakfast being cancelled for the elementary, middle and high school students in Montevallo (all of whom Price drives on his bus run).
"For a lot of students that means that they won't get to eat," Allison Campbell, Principal of Montevello Elementary, told TODAY Food. "It speaks volumes to [Price's] character that he was attune to that."
After hanging up the phone, Price had an idea that truly reflects the spirit of giving. Before hitting his usual route, he headed to a local McDonald's to get himself a biscuit ... and one for every kid on the bus.
"When I got to McDonald's, I asked the manager, 'Can you turn around 50 biscuits in 15 minutes and can you give me as good of a deal as possible?' He gave me a dollar deal and we just turned it around," Price told TODAY Food. "They really hustled with other customers in the store and I walked out with a box load of biscuits for my kids."
To Price, this act of kindness was not random, nor was it solely because of the Christmas spirit.
"I'm driven by faith and Christ," Price told TODAY Food.
In 2003, Price closed his company, where he worked as a contractor, to serve with the Youth Ministry. In 2013, he became a bus driver for the public school district to be a part of the community and continues to work with several churches in the area. In addition to his morning and afternoon pickups to and from school, Price is a mentor to youth groups and organizes teen and college-aged student trips to volunteer on Navajo reservations.
"When the kids got on I said, 'So, what do ya want? Sausage? McMuffin?" Price told TODAY Food with a hearty laugh. “I got some sweet kids and I get really attached to them ... they were really appreciative. I dunno. I just love my kids. I got lots of fist pumps, lots of high-fives, lots of 'Love you Mr. Price,' lots of 'Thank you Mr. Price.'"
Fifty McDonald's biscuits and a lot of full bellies later, Price continues to be grateful for "where God has [him] right now caring for them."
To the bus driver, Christmas is all about giving in the spirit of God.
And give he did.
Editor's note: A McDonald's spokesperson told TODAY Food Jan. 2, the U.S. division of McDonald's sent Price a handwritten thank you note with a $100 Arch Card and a $1,000 Visa gift card to reward his kindness. The restaurant's owner and operator where Price bought his students breakfast, Jason Black, also gave Price coupons to feed his class again at the beginning of the 2019 school year.