Mr. James had to come out of retirement to pay his rent, which enraged some students.
The shocking increase in the cost of living for the average American over the last few years has been difficult for almost everyone. Consumer prices have skyrocketed, with inflation reaching its highest level in 40 years in June 2022.
Rent has risen for the average American as well. The average year-over-year increase was 5.77% from 2017 to 2022, with the most significant increase of 14% occurring from 2021 to 2022.
Almost every American is feeling the pinch of rising living costs, but it must be especially difficult for those on fixed incomes. According to Fox 4 News, when an 80-year-old retired man known as “Mr. James” saw his rent increase by $400, he was forced to work again to make ends meet. Mr. James was hired as a janitor at Callisburg High School in Texas, and the sight of an elderly man lifting garbage cans and scrubbing lunch tables upset some of the students.
“It’s just so sad seeing an 80-year-old man having to do things an 80-year-old shouldn’t have to do,” Callisburg senior Banner Tidwell told KXII.
A few students at the school decided to help Mr. James by starting a GoFundMe campaign called “Getting Mr. James out of this school” to raise money for him so he could resume his retirement. The teens set a $10,000 goal, which was quickly exceeded after Greyson Thurman, a Callisburg student, promoted it with a TikTok video that went viral.
Mr. James’ GoFundMe campaign has already raised $225,000 in just eight days. “He doesn’t want any part of the spotlight. He’s appreciative of what these students have done,” Jason Hooper, the school’s principal, told Fox 4 Dallas-Fort Worth.
“It’s crazy to see something that we knew people would have wanted to help. But we didn’t know it would blow up,” senior Marti Yousko, one of the campaign’s organizers, told KXII, “When we told him, he was kind of like, ‘dang, that’s alright!'” Yousko went on.
“It’s just amazing,” Hooper told KXII. ”You know of the need that was met because of three kind kids, but of all of our students who have pitched in to help that need.”
Surprisingly, these students had the courage to recognize Mr. James’ struggles and stepped up to help. This is one of those stories that is both heartwarming and sad at the same time. It’s wonderful that children, the community, and people all over the world are assisting Mr. James, but it’s terrible that an 80-year-old man would have to return to work in the first place. Especially in such a wealthy country.
Fox 4 News reached out to the Callisburg Independent School District to see if Mr. James is still employed at the school, and he hasn’t stated any plans to leave.
“Nobody deserves to work their whole life. They deserve to enjoy everything,” Thurman explained.