Derlin Newey doesn’t look like your average pizza delivery guy.
“What is this guy doing delivering Pizzas? True hustler,” Valdez captioned the post.
In the clip, Newey is talkative and friendly, striking up a long conversation with Valdez’s family. TikTok users, meanwhile, saw something different.
The video instantly went viral, with commenters sharing their sadness and surprise that, at 89, Newey still needed to work to sustain himself. Users began calling for a “Venmo challenge” — a social media trend where strangers work together to send money to someone in need.
In the end, they raised $12,000.
The Valdez family befriended Newey in the meantime and got ready to deliver his “tip.” They ultimately recorded the entire exchange in another video, which has now been viewed more than 300,000 times.
In the clip, the Valdezes sit Newey down and explain that their community worked together to donate “$0.50 to a dollar.”
“And, collectively, because there are thousands of people that love you,” Valdez says in the video. “We collected over $12,000 for you.”
“That’s all yours,” his wife adds.
Newey appears overcome with emotion in the video and ultimately hugs Valdez and his wife, telling them he loves them.
“How do I ever say thank you? I don’t know what to say,” the 89-year-old added, according to the Guardian.
Newey’s story quickly spread nationwide, drawing coverage in major news outlets and plenty of discussion online. However, it also raised the question of why the Valdezes gift was even necessary.
KSL-TV reported that Newey started working at Papa John’s because he realized he couldn’t survive on his social security benefits alone. As the Guardian points out, someone at his age earning the nation’s average yearly income would receive about $1,579 a month in benefits.
The realization that Newey needed the money led many social media users to claim his story was more “depressing” than uplifting.
As a result, Newey’s story has led to widespread criticisms of a system that requires its elderly to work for survival. Still, those critiques didn’t stop most social media users from praising the thousands of TikTokers who donated.
Valdez, meanwhile, echoed that sentiment.
“He needed this. I’m just glad we could help him,” he told KSL-TV. “We just need to treat people with kindness and respect the way he does. He stole our hearts.”
Check out In The Know’s article on the singer whose viral TikTok “changed” her life.
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