Texas: Retired janitor forced to return to work after rent hike
An 80-year-old janitor, known to students as Mr James, was gifted the equivalent of around £217,900 for his retirement. This was thanks to a GoFundMe fundraiser set up by students of Callisburg High School in Texas.
Within the space of a week, the GoFundMe page saw $170,000 (£136,629) in donations for Mr James.
By the time the fundraiser was closed down, the janitor had a financial gift worth $270,880 (£217,706.26).
Originally, students were hoping the GoFundMe would raise around $10,000 for the 80-year-old’s retirement.
However, thanks to members of the wider Callisburg community catching wind of the fundraiser, this amount ballooned to over $270,000 (£216,999).
Mr James had to come out of his initial retirement due to the rise in the cost of living as a result of the pandemic and following the economic downturn.
The 80-year-old first began working in the school in January after his rent was raised by $400 (currently around £321.48) a month, according to Fox 4.
Three high school seniors took action after seeing Mr James working a manual job in his old age.
One of them, Greyson Thurman, share the janitor’s story on TikTok which generated thousands of views.
Thurman told a local news station: “I have 2,000 followers and that was enough to get the word out.”
The TikTok clip included the caption: “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.”
Speaking to Fox 4, the school’s principal Jason Hooper said: “He doesn’t want to be part of the spotlight.
“He’s very appreciative of what these students have done. It’s insane.”
Eventually, Mr James, whose full name is James Gailey, called for the fundraiser to come down once his retirement fund was in the hundreds of thousands.
On the GoFundMe page, the fundraising campaign’s organisers left a message to all those who had donated to the cause.
It read: “Thank you, everyone, who donated and helped Mr James enjoy his retirement, he asked for us to take down the GoFundMe today.
“He is very appreciative of everyone willing to give up their time to help him out and change his life. You all have shown what can happen when everyone gets together to help others.”
In the comment section of the GoFundMe page, those who had been touched by Mr James’ story voiced their admiration for the man and the students who set up the fundraiser.
One commenter named Sharon Davis wrote: “So proud of these young people seeing a need and doing something about it. Your parents and teachers should be so proud of you.”
Another named Jason Smith said: “Enjoy your retirement Mr James. It’s well deserved. Thank you for serving the kids and community.”
Ashley Thompson added: “Enjoy your retirement Mr James. It’s well deserved. Thank you for serving the kids and community.”
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