His name is Del Bourque, but all the kids – and their waving parents – call him Mr. Del. He’s been ferrying students from their homes to Auburn Village School and back for more than 15 years, but it’s an extra mile that has left such a lasting impression.
“I just have to share this: For the past five years, my son’s school bus driver, Mr. Del, has bought every student on his bus a Christmas gift. Every kid,” said parent Maureen Ann Langlois in a Dec. 10 Facebook post.
“It never ceases to amaze me how kind and thoughtful he is even during the hardest year we’ve all had. Mr. Del proves year after year that one small act of kindness is all it takes to show people you care. Even with the school challenges this year — remote /hybrid learning ... kids not being able to sit together on the bus or work together in groups like they used to — today my son and all the kids on the bus felt pretty special.”
This year’s holiday gift to the kids of bus #5 – there are a total of 60 between Bourke’s two routes — was a $5 gift card each to a local pizza shop.
“He’s such a great role model for our kids during an extremely difficult time,” Langois told NHWeekend. “They’ve gotten cookies, cards, gift cards, candy canes (in previous years). This year it was a gift card to the Auburn House of Pizza, with handwritten notes to each kid.”
Bourque, when reached Tuesday afternoon, said he doesn’t do it for accolades.
“They treat me with respect, and I treat them with respect. It’s a two-way street. (We) exchange ‘good mornings,’ ‘have a nice days’ and ‘good nights’ as they get on and off the bus,” said Bourque, who lives in Manchester. “I don’t do it to get recognized. I do it for the smile on the kids’ faces.”
Two of those faces earlier this week posed for a photo in front of the family Christmas tree with two boxes from the Auburn House of Pizza.
“Jackson is 9 and in the fourth grade and Graham is 7 and in the second grade,” said Auburn mother Tanya Bishop. “I love that Mr. Del goes above and beyond, and that in such uncertain times, he is also supporting local businesses.
“Friday nights in our house are pizza night. Whether it’s take out, homemade or frozen, pizza on Friday night is a constant. The boys were so excited for their gift cards, and each got their own calzone. Jackson got pepperoni and Graham got cheese.”
When Bishop posted a Dec. 11 Facebook pix of the boys with their dinner, Mr. Del replied with an emoji of a pizza slice with a big grin.
“Thank you for all the kind words. I am blessed to have great kids on my bus,” he said in response to a string of parents’ comments.
Last spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic led so many schools to switch to remote learning, Bourque didn’t get a chance to hand out end-of-year treats. He decided to go with Best Buy gift cards, rather than cookies and brownies as people began increasing social distances and reducing contact. With the buses halted for a time, he drove to each students’ house to drop off their gifts.
“Thank you, Mr. Del, for your heart,” said Langois, adding a #kindnessmatters hash tag.