Pure Black joy: School bus driver comes through on Pajama Day for poor first-grader who didn’t have any

BY Ben Ebuka Oji February 21, 2024 9:28 AM EDT
Larry Farrish Jr. and Levi
Larry Farrish Jr. and Levi. Photo Credit: Jefferson County Public Schools

Larry Farrish Jr., a Jefferson County school bus driver, earned praise as the hero of Levi, a first-grader who lacked pajamas for the school’s pajama day. Farrish took the initiative to purchase pajamas for Levi, ensuring he could participate in the festivities without missing out.

Levi, a student at Engelhard Elementary School, typically brightens Farrish’s mornings with a beaming smile and an eager wave as the friendly driver approaches the first grader’s bus stop each day.

However, on Friday, February 9th, on arriving at the bus stop that day, Farrish noticed that Levi didn’t display his usual cheerful demeanor. Farrish saw Levi sitting alone with his head bowed, prompting him to realize that something was amiss, Farrish recounted.

“He’s always happy, but this particular day, he was not happy,” said Farrish.

Farrish approached Levi and inquired about his apparent distress. Levi looked up, tears streaming down his face, and explained that he didn’t have pajamas for the school’s pajama day.

While Levi’s classmates at Engelhard Elementary School were decked out in their pajamas for the Louisville school’s pajama day, Levi, tearful and upset, was unable to join them in the appropriate attire.

“It hurt me so bad,” Farrish said. “That just wasn’t my Levi, and I wanted him to have a good day. No child should have to miss out on something as small as pajama day.”

Determined to make a difference, Farrish acted swiftly. After dropping Levi off at Engelhard and completing his morning bus route, he purchased several pairs of pajamas in different sizes from a nearby Family Dollar store. Returning to the school, he approached the front office staff and requested they call Levi down.

Larry Farrish Jr. and Levi
Larry Farrish Jr. and Levi. Photo Credit: Jefferson County Public Schools

Within moments, Farrish spotted Levi making his way down the hallway. Levi’s face radiated with joy when he held the shocking gift. With pride and excitement, he donned his new sports-themed “All-Star” pajamas, a touching moment immortalized in photographs shared by the school district.

That simple act of kindness completely transformed the entire day, bringing joy to Levi and Farrish.

“I can tell Mr. Larry is nice and his heart is filled with joy,” Levi said. “I’m usually really happy, but not on pajama day…When he got me the pajamas, I did a happy cry.”

Seven years ago, Farrish started driving a bus, initially choosing the position for the convenience of having weekends and summers off. However, the role soon evolved into something deeper — a “passion” that enables him to make a meaningful impact. Over time, Farrish has developed a deep connection with students, an act that gives him immense joy.

Farrish described the attention he’s received since that selfless gesture as “overwhelming” and “touching.” He noted that just as he went out of his way to help Levi, people have reached out to him to convey the impact he’s had—not only on Levi but also on other students he’s transported over the years.

“They become my kids after they leave their parents,” Farrish said. “I make sure they get to and from school safe, but I also try to bring some type of joy to their lives,” said Farrish in a press release from the Jefferson County Public Schools. “For people to actually be able to find me and reach out on behalf of such a small gesture, it made me cry. It feels good knowing I made an impact on a child’s life.”