Homeless teacher surprised with $27,000 check after former student's charitable fundraiser goes viral

FONTANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A teacher in San Bernardino County who had fallen on hard times has received the surprise of a lifetime.

Fontana resident Steven Nava, 20, has gone viral after starting a charity campaign for a local homeless man that he realized was actually one of his former high school substitute teachers, Jose Villarruel.

Unbeknownst to the teacher, Nava started a GoFundMe fundraiser campaign that has raised more than $27,000.

"Mr. V was a great funny and helpful educator and substitute teacher in the Fontana Unified School District," a statement on the GoFundMe page said. "He's struggled with getting back on his feet after the pandemic hit and has been living in his car ever since despite the brutal weather and living conditions."

On Thursday, the teacher was surprised with the gift.

"I still can't digest the entire experience," Villarruel said after receiving the check. "It's been too much in a few days, OK. I have to sleep on it and talk to my wife -- I don't know, several times -- before I realize what's really happening and make the best of it now."

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Villarruel said he wants to use some of the money to pay for his wife's medical bills.
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