Students at a Texas high school are being praised after raising more than $260,000 to help the school’s 80-year-old janitor retire.
When the Callisburg High School students learned that their janitor, Mr. James, had returned to work in January because his rent increased by around $400 a month, they created a GoFundMe to help pay his rent and retire. They then posted the fundraiser to TikTok in hopes it would go viral.
With an original goal of $10,000, student Greyson Thurman captioned the TikTok video, “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.”
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
Thurman and his friends at Callisburg were following a recent trend that has seen TikTokkers raising large sums of money to help someone retire, including two Walmart workers in their 80s and a 72-year-old Dominos driver whose painful fall delivering a pizza was captured on a family’s doorbell camera.
Since being posted on Feb. 15, the video has gathered thousands of views and more than 200 comments praising the teens for their kindness.
“Very refreshing to see how much these kids care!! Love it!! lets make this viral!!” one TikTok user wrote, with another saying, “This generation continues to amaze me. As a millennial I’m so proud of y’all. As much as the world lets us down yall keep pushing & I admire that a lot.”
The GoFundMe has since surpassed both the initial goal and an expanded goal of $200,000. With more than 8,000 donations, the current donation total stands at over $268,000 as of the publication time of this story.
“Thanks so much to everyone that has donated and spread the word to help Mr. James. You all have made a huge impact on him that will forever change his life,” Thurman wrote as an update on GoFundMe. “We will keep the GoFundMe donation link up until noon on Friday, 2/24/23, so that he can enjoy his retirement. God bless you all!!!!”
Scripps News, which shares parent company E.W. Scripps with Simplemost, interviewed Callisburg High School students Greyson Thurman and Banner Tidwell. Greyson and Banner described Mr. James and why they wanted to do this for him.
The students said they didn’t expect such an outpouring of support for Mr. James.
Local Fox affiliate KDFW says Mr. James declined an interview but didn’t mind his story being shared.
“When we told him (Mr. James), he was kind of like, ‘dang, that’s alright!’,” said student Marti Yousko, whose idea it was to start the campaign, KDFW reports.
The school district told KDFW on Feb. 22 that Mr. James was still employed there and hasn’t said anything about quitting.