With his hands in his pockets and a shy smile tilted toward the ground, Lucas Walser walked toward a white Corolla in his school parking lot with a crowd of people watching.
The car was a gift for the 18-year-old junior at Nampa’s Ridgevue High School who’s had a rough go of it lately.
Until recently, Walser had been living on his own after some family troubles. Sometimes, that meant sleeping outside.
Walser works a part-time job at Chick-fil-A, but with no car, sometimes had to walk from near the Ford Idaho Center to work and to school at Ridgevue — a trek of almost two hours.
Walser stayed in school, worked, and kept up with sports. Many of his family members didn’t finish high school, Walser said, but he has goals of playing football in college.
“It was more of a personal thing for me to get to high school, graduate, get my diploma and have a better life instead of struggling to have money every month,” he said.
When staff at Ridgevue learned about Walser’s struggles, families in the school community volunteered to put him up. This week, he got another surprise: wheels.
In April, Nampa school resource officer Stu Hobson shared Walser’s story during a state conference on supporting students and addressing youth risk behaviors.
Kayla Green, who works at the state office of School Safety & Security, was in the audience. After she heard Walser’s story, she contacted a Caldwell car lot, and asked if they might donate a vehicle.
“We wanted to be able to help him so he didn’t have to walk anymore,” said Kim Jacobs, owner of Kim’s Kars in Caldwell. “It’s amazing. What a dedicated (kid).”
Walser could hardly believe it when he found out on Monday that he was getting a new car. “I was like no, this is a dream. This ain’t true,” he said.
“These last few months, because of all of the great people around here, it’s made it a lot easier,” Walser said.
In between hugs and interviews, after test-driving his new car around the parking lot, Walser found Jacobs for a quiet moment.
“Thank you,” he told her. “I really do appreciate it.”