Thanks to the generosity of a Charlotte, N.C., barbershop owner, 14 high school seniors will now graduate with their class.

Season Bennett, owner of Charlotte’s Headlines Barbershop, was inspired to call East Mecklenburg High School’s front office to see if any seniors were being prohibited from graduating due to outstanding debt. When she was told that 14 seniors at East Mecklenburg High School had unpaid bills that would keep them from marching, she sprang into action, according to WBTV.

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“It seems like that’s just basic in our culture,” Bennett told WBTV. “You need to get at least your high school diploma.”

Bennett said she was inspired by the generosity of billionaire Robert F. Smith, the keynote speaker at Morehouse’s graduation who promised to pay off the debts of the entire senior class.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that is just such a powerful thing for anybody,’ ” Bennett said. “So many students go into so much debt just trying to get an education.”

The students owed a total of $4,500 – some of the money was for outstanding debt due to the band program — so Bennett got busy enlisting the help of the local business community to help pay off the debt.

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“I just think about that quote by Martin Luther King when he says you don’t have to see the whole staircase, you just have to take the first step,” Bennett explained.

The daughter of former Carolina Panthers linebacker, Thomas Davis, read about what Bennett was doing and told her father about it.

“And he said, ‘You know what, whatever need you have left over, we’re going to make sure these students graduate,’” Bennett said.

From there, Bennett called the school to inform administrators that the 14 seniors would in fact be graduating.

“One girl fell to her knees, and she said, ‘I have to call my mom,’” Bennett says. “She said her mom was working on getting a loan.”

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