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Philanthropist Marcus Lemonis Donates $10M To His Alma Mater Columbus High Including $18K For Each Employee

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- More than $10 million was donated to Christopher Columbus High School in Miami-Dade on Thursday thanks to alumni Marcus Lemonis.

Included in the donation was an $18,000 gift to every staff member at the private school.

"Whether you're a schoolteacher, whether you are in the maintenance department, every single employee will receive a check for $18,000," said Lemonis, as he spoke to the excited crowd of students and staff.

MARCUS LEMONIS Columbus High Donation
Philanthropist Marcus Lemonis donates $10M to his alma mater Christopher Columbus High school including $18K for each employee. (CBS4)

Lemonis who is a business owner, philanthropist, and reality TV star, credits the private school for shaping him into the man he is today.

"I'm not going to wait for the government or private institutions to do what we think is right," said Lemonis.

In total, he donated $3.1 million to cover what he called a "tip" for staff members. He also donated an additional $7 million to develop two centers on campus which were dedicated to two families that impacted Lemonis' life.

The building funds will go towards developing the Center for College and Career guidance which will be named after Pat Call, who has taught at the school for 43 years.

The funds will also be used to create the Desmond Family Success Center on campus. The building is named after Bill Desmond and his family whom Lemonis says helped him enroll in the school as a child.

"We know that a lot of these schools are on tight budgets and if you receive love from somebody at some point you gotta give it back," he said.

The staff had no idea they were receiving the $18,000 gift from Lemonis. Some broke down in tears as they expressed their shock and gratitude.

"It's amazing, what Marcus just did, he changed my life," said Omar Delgado, a teacher, and the Technical Specialist at the school. He told CBS4 News that he and his wife are expecting their second child any day now.

"When do you get an $18,000 gift. That doesn't happen, that happens in movies! Unless you're a Columbus Explorer, then it happens here," said Delgado.

Lemonis didn't leave the students empty-handed either, on a whim, he announced that school was canceled the next day.

"I didn't get permission for this but, tomorrow school is canceled," he announced as the crowd of students erupted in applause and cheers.

The donation came on the same day that John H. Ruiz and his family made a $10 million donation to Westminster Christian School in Palmetto Bay.

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