Many people around us fight battles and endure a life full of trials and tribulations that we may not always know about. But when one elderly man’s story reached the people around him, they were determined to turn things around and ease his woes. Let’s take a look at how they did it!
They say life is what happens to us while we’re preoccupied with making and trying to execute our plans. Nothing is permanent, but challenging times can sometimes linger on for much longer than expected. Also, unpleasant surprises and hardships somehow always come uninvited!
This couldn’t be more true for one older man who had worked diligently and with utmost dedication all his life. Finally, he decided to retire, hoping to relax, unwind, and lead the rest of his life without exerting too much. Unbeknownst to him, he would soon be forced to reconsider his decision!
The Old Man’s Predicament
But the question was: why did the elderly man have to think things through? Sadly, nothing went according to his plans, and everything turned topsy-turvy when his landlord raised the rent to almost $400 per month.
One of the students, Marti Yousko, said she learned about Mr. James’ story in one of her classes and couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Forced to Change His Mind
Despite being a hard worker and never slacking on his responsibilities, the senior citizen could not enjoy life in his old age. He struggled to pay rent while putting food on the table, paying the bills, and covering other expenses.
Resultantly, he had to unretire and resume work because it was the only way he could survive. And so, having worked in a different field, he took up a job as a school janitor in Cooke County, Texas, in January 2023.
A Respectable Worker
Many staff members and students referred to him as Mr. James—the older man they saw working silently, without any complaints. Every day, he did his work—cleaning up students’ mess, carrying large trash cans, and mopping floors. Everyone, including the principal, Jason Hooper, greatly respected him.
When his heart-wrenching story reached three students in Callisburg High School, Calisburg, Texas, things took a turn for the better. Deeply touched by his dire circumstances, the teens decided to step forward and ease his troubles to whatever extent possible!
Supporting the Elderly Janitor
One of the students, Marti Yousko, said she learned about Mr. James’ story in one of her classes and couldn’t stop thinking about it. She noted how she and her friends saw it as a sign to do something for him, such as starting a fundraiser and using social media’s power to make it go viral.
Yousko and her friend, Banner Tidwell, teamed up with another student, Greyson Thurman, to initiate a campaign for the 80-year-old janitor. Thurman created a crowdfunding page and set the original target at $10,000; surprisingly, it surpassed the goal and amassed over $28,000 in only two days.
Thurman also posted the story on TikTok, bringing to everyone’s attention that Mr. James was forced to return to work to make ends meet, further stating, “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.”
Within a few days, the GoFundMe page garnered over $160,000—something that shocked and delighted the Calisburg students. As more donations poured in, the thoughtful pupils raised the target amount to $200,000.
As of February 24, 2023, over $244,000 had been collected. According to an update on the online fundraiser titled “Getting Mr. James out of this school,” Thurman thanked everyone for their donations and support and for making the campaign successful. He added:
“You all have made a huge impact on him that will forever change his life. 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!!!!”
Doing Things in Good Faith
Everyone, including Thurman, Yousko, and Tidwell, was taken aback by the campaign’s overwhelming response. Several Calisbury students, their families, and others contributed to the fundraiser, turning things around for Mr. James. Thurman expressed:
“I think God called us all to do it. Once I heard, ‘Greyson you should post it’, something was heavy on my heart telling me, Greyson you gotta do it and if you don’t this guys going to keep working here (sic).”
Per Fox 4 News, Mr. James was hesitant for an interview but appreciated everyone’s support and had no reservations about his story being shared. Calisburg’s Principal Hooper noted that the older janitor was grateful to the students but wished to avoid public attention.
Hooper also said it was incredible to see the story gaining traction and how the students came together to help a man in need. It was also reported that Mr. James had not turned in his resignation yet and was still employed at the Texas school. But we’re sure it will follow sooner than later!
Click here to read about an 85-year-old widower who worked as a janitor to raise his two adopted grandsons. One day, a chance meeting proved life-altering, as he received $75,000 afterward!