Students Raise $270K to Help 80-Year-Old Janitor

‘Mr. James’ was forced to come out of retirement due to an increase in his rent.

March 2, 2023

According to WFFA Channel 8 in Dallas, Texas, three seniors from a North Texas high school recently returned the favor for the janitor who serves there.

The Callisburg High School janitor James Gailey—known affectionally as “Mr. James”—had come out of retirement and began working again at the age of 80 due to a US$400 raise in his rent that he couldn’t afford.

The three students—Greyson Thurman, Banner Tidwell, and Marti Yusko—learned of Mr. James’ plight and decided to start a GoFundMe page to help raise money for his cause. Thurman also shared the custodian’s story via a video on the social media platform TikTok, showing Mr. James going about his daily cleaning tasks at the school.

“No 80-year-old should have to work because they have to,” Tidwell told WFFA-TV. “It should be because they want to. It bothered us that he had to have a place to work in order to keep his house.”

The students initially hoped to raise $10,000. When the GoFundMe page was disabled to any new contributions on February 24, just nine days after it had been created, the donations instead equaled at staggering $270,905.

“Mr. James is obviously loved and respected by his students!” one contributor, Lori Limpar, commented on the GoFundMe page. “I hope he has a happy retirement!”

Another donator, Sharon Travis, commented, “So proud of these young people seeing a need and doing something about it! Your parents and teachers should be so proud of you!”

The school’s principal, Jason Hooper, told WFFA, “[Callisburg] is small town. It amazes me how many of our kids, as a whole, had donated to this. Of seeing a need and meeting that need. It’s what we’re about. We’re family. We don’t always agree, but we love our own and we help our own.”

For Tidwell, the experience taught her that good people still exist. “After seeing everything that goes on in the world, they really just focus on the bad things, and it really showed us how much people really care,” she said.

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