Students Raise $270K for 80-Year-Old Custodian Who Came Out of Retirement After His Rent Went Up

@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

Retirement is an incredibly important milestone in a worker's life. That's why it's heartbreaking to learn that the goal posts have been moved for someone. An 80-year-old man from Texas identified as Mr. James had retired sometime ago. However, when his rent was raised by $400, he found himself having to go back into the workforce to make ends meet, taking up a janitorial job at Callisburg High School. After starting the job in January, he was spotted by a group of students, who decided to start a campaign to help Mr. James retire for good.

A senior student named Greyson Thurman posted a TikTok video of Mr. James walking down the school halls beside his custodial cart. Worried for him, he captioned the video with a  plea: “This is our 80 y/o janitor who had his rent raised and had to come back to work. Let's help Mr. James out!” Thurman also shared that he and fellow senior Marti Yousko had created a GoFundMe campaign, adding, “No one his age should have to be cleaning our messes up to continue to live.”

The teens set a $10,000 goal for the campaign, hoping the community and their fellow students would pitch in. “Hey guys I’m having a fundraiser for our janitor who is struggling to pay his rent. He had to leave retirement to continue to pay his rent that was raised. Just a little will change his life!!” Thurman wrote on February 15, not knowing how far their efforts would go.

The story moved so many people that they met and surpassed the goal in no time, reaching over $240,000 in less than 10 days. “We knew being in a small town like Callisburg that people would want to help and people would want to support us, especially with something like this, but I don't think we ever imagined that there'd be like news channels here,” Yousko told KDFW. “When we told him [Mr. James], he was kind of like, ‘Dang, that's alright!'”

With their efforts, they've reached more than enough to set Mr. James for life. While he declined speaking to the media, the school's principal relayed that the custodian is very appreciative of what these students have done. “Thanks so much to everyone that has donated and spread the word to help Mr. James,” Thurman wrote in the GoFundMe campaign. “You all have made a huge impact on him that will forever change his life.” The campaign officially concluded on February 24, and raised a total of $270,905; greatly exceeding the initial goal.

While it's heartbreaking that there were no other safety nets for Mr. James and that it came down to a TikTok video and the generosity of strangers on GoFundMe for an 80-year-old to finally get the rest he deserves, this campaign speaks highly of the will of a community to support one of their most vulnerable members. “I don't think anyone should have to come out of retirement just to make ends meet,” Yousko said. Thurman agreed: “Nobody deserves to work their whole life. They deserve to enjoy everything.”

After a group of students learned the 80-year-old school janitor had come back from retirement to make ends meet, they launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him retire for good.

80-year-old custodian poses with three students who helped him when he had to come out from retirement to pay rent

Photo: Greyson Thurman via GoFundMe

The story moved so many people that they met and surpassed the goal in no time, reaching over $240,000 in less than 10 days.

h/t: [Insider]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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