Three Texas high-school students have swept in to save the day by giving their school janitor a second shot at retirement.
Greyson Thurman, Marti Yousko and Banner Tidwell of Callisburg High School shared a TikTok of their school janitor, Mr. James, pushing a mop and a garbage can down the halls of the school.
Mr. James, 80, had to come out of retirement to work because the price of his rent increased by $400 per month, Principal Jason Hooper told local outlet KTEN.
“My classmates and I hate seeing Mr. James here,” Thurman wrote alongside the video clip of James on social media. “No one his age should have to be cleaning our messes up to continue to live.”
@grey.thurman Go fund me is in the bio! My classmates and I hate seeing Mr. James here, no one his age should have to be cleaning our messes up to continue to live. #fyp#school#gofundme#fy#mrjames ♬ snowfall – Øneheart & reidenshi
The students started a GoFundMe page with an initial goal of $10,000 before raising it to $80,000 after seeing the outpouring of support.
By the time the fundraiser closed out on Friday, the classmates had raised $270,970 from more than 8,600 donors.
“It’s amazing what these teens have done for this man, and it’s amazing to see how many stepped up for this man,” one TikToker commented. “Brings tears to my eyes.”
“This story is the kindest, warmest, most hopeful thing,” another said emotionally. “Go enjoy life, Mr. James!”
The classmates shared that Mr. James had asked the fundraiser to be taken down on Friday, February 24, and that he was “very appreciative” of the way that the community and internet were able to “give up their time to help him.”
“You all have made a huge impact on him that will forever change his life,” Thurman wrote in an update on the fundraiser last Thursday. “You all have shown what can happen when everyone gets together to help others!!!”
The power of TikTok was similarly harnessed for good after an 82-year-old Walmart employee in Maryland named Butch Marion was able to retire thanks to the help of a viral video and a GoFundMe which has raised over $170,432 to date.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a high school janitor in the US is $40,500. Per the same data, the average salary for the position in Texas is $34,261 a year.