For 45 years, Genevieve Via Cava dedicated her time and talent to teaching students in a special education program at a New Jersey school.
Via Cava retired in 1990, but she couldn't completely walk away from her job. She would regularly check in on the classes, visit the school district, and the superintendent's office.
The only thing Via Cava may have enjoyed more than being a teacher is clipping coupons and scoring a good deal.
"She used to come into my store and go to the 70-percent-off rack and that's all she would buy," Richard Jablonski, a close friend and executor of Via Cava's will, recalled.
Via Cava didn't care about going on expensive vacations or even splurging on the hearing aids she needed. Jablonski is convinced that she picked up this habit of excessive savings while growing up during the Great Depression, it's also possible that she was motivated by something else - her students.
Sadly, Via Cava passed away in 2011 at the age of 88, however, she left behind a gift that no one expected.
Through her exceptional saving habits, Via Cava was able to accumulate a small fortune, and since she did not have any immediate family or children, she decided to give a chunk of it to the Dumont Public Schools.
How much exactly? $1 million!
Seven years after she passed away, the school district just learned the amount of the donation that they're now calling "a blessing."
"I thought it was a joke," school superintendent Emanuele Triggiano told NorthJersey.com. "But then we got the paperwork."
The former educator specified that the money is to be used to establish a scholarship fund for special education students who want to pursue a post-secondary studies.
Starting next spring, high school graduates from the special Ed program at Dumont Schools will have a shot at earning scholarships to continue their studies. Depending on how much interest it earns, one or more students could get up to $25,000 each.
"In the event the scholarship fund grows to the extent that two or more scholarships can be made available, we can then give it to additional students," Triggiano said.
Via Cava's attorney, April Savoye, revealed that the school district wasn't the sole beneficiary of her fortune.
"Because she had no immediate family of her own, and not even many not-so-distant relatives, it made sense for her to make this donation," Savoye wrote in an email. "It took a while to distribute the money because it was a sizable estate and it takes time to get the federal government and state government to approve and finalize estate tax returns."
She left $100,000 each to five other organizations, including the Salvation Army and Ramapo Animal Refuge.
What a generous gesture! Via Cava's name and legacy will surely live on for years to come.