One Wisconsin bus driver is responsible for quite the feel-good yarn.
Trudy Serres, who drives a bus full of 5- to 10-year-olds to Summit Elementary School in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, crocheted toys for 34 of the pint-sized passengers on her route at the end of this past school year in a gesture of kindness.
"I’ve had a couple of parents come up to my bus and tell me that they won’t go to sleep without their 'stuffy,'" Serres, 43, told TODAY. "Some of the kids take them to church, others on vacation, and to me, that’s more rewarding than anything.
"If you buy a child an $80 toy, they play it maybe for three hours and leave it on a shelf. It gives me joy that my kids are still playing with them."
The students had seen her crochet hats and scarves during waits on the job before, but her project didn't start until two weeks before Easter when one of the kids, a 10-year-old named Vincent, dared her to make him a stuffed taco.
"I told him I could, and two days later I gave it to him," she explained, "because what am I going to do with a taco?"
That led to a barrage of other requests, for which Serres started taking down notes. "Star Wars" clearly is popular in Oconomowoc — as she fielded calls for a Darth Vader, a clone trooper and four Yodas. A budding hockey player got his own crocheted hockey player in the boy's team colors and with his hockey number sewn on the back.
The most complex, a giant pink troll from the recent animated movie took her a whole week. The strangest? A sombrero-wearing cat with the body of a taco that shoots rainbows out of its body — a kid's imaginative variation on the popular internet meme Nyan Cat.
Three best friends who live in the same subdivision complex got nearly identical camouflage panda bears, with their initials sewn into the front so they wouldn't mix them up when they played.
"I would put it on the dashboard of the bus when each one was finished before I stopped at the kids' stops," said Serres. "So they’d be grinning from ear to ear when they saw them."
Serres, touched by the gratification of her kids and their parents, is still surprised the story has made its way far outside the sleepy city of 15,000 and into the national press.
"From what people are telling me, my story has become popular because there’s not a lot of givers around anymore," said Serras. "All you hear lately in the news is all the hatred going around. So it's good to have some love out there."