Parents and employees at a Tennessee elementary school came together to raise money for a struggling custodian who had walked miles to get to work, WMC reports.
On Feb. 19, the staff at Farmington Elementary in Germantown asked Robert Reed, the custodian, to meet them in the school’s library. Reed was reportedly about to talk about his responsibilities when Elizabeth Malone, a teacher, surprised him with an announcement.
“We started a GoFundMe for you 21 hours ago,” she said. “And we’ve raised $7000 for you to buy a new truck.”
Upon receiving the news, Reed immediately dropped to his knees and started crying, according to the station.
“I love these people up here,” he told WMC. “I love them! And I couldn’t have made it without them. It’s a joy to work here. Pure joy.”
The custodian had previously spent hours trekking to work, the station notes.
“Let’s say I get off at 3 p.m.,” Reed told WMC. “Then I get home around 7 p.m. I stay at Millbranch and Winchester. I have to catch three buses and walk two miles. All the teachers have taken me to the bus stop. They even gave me money when I didn’t have any. I’m telling you, Farmington is a family here.”
Malone returned the compliment, claiming that Reed’s gift was well-deserved.
“His work ethic is unbelievable,” she told the station. “And we want our kids to pick up on that, not only to have a good work ethic, but also if you see someone in need, try to help. It’s important to do that.”
Though the Farmington staff initially set a $10,000 benchmark for the GoFundMe, the campaign has raised well over its target. Since Feb. 18, donors have poured in nearly $50,000 to help Reed get a new truck.
“Your commitment to excellence is the greatest gift to bestow on our school children,” one donor wrote. “The best lessons are not always taught in the classroom. Keep smiling Mr. Reed.”
“Hard work does pay off – such a good message and example for our young people, ” another posted. “Congratulations Mr. Reed, I hope you’ll get much enjoyment from your new truck.”
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