In one of the better feel-good stories of 2023, an eight-year-old boy raised almost $100,000 for his favorite server at an Arkansas Waffle House after he learned the man was living in a motel with his family and struggling to make ends meet.
The boy, identified as Kayzen Hunter, is a regular at the Little Rock chain diner and befriended, as it were, a server named Devonte Gardner. After getting to know him and his story, Hunter learned that the man had been living in a motel room with his wife and two daughters for over eight months.
“Devonte is just a really nice person. Really good guy. Super nice to everyone he meets,” Kayzen said.
It was unclear for how long Gardner has worked at Waffle House, but he said that it’s a place he’s always enjoyed being at.
“I love working at Waffle House basically just you know, meeting new people every day, and making their day,” he said. “I come with a positive attitude. I treat everybody with positivity. I love to see everybody smile.”
Of his financial situation, he mentioned that he and his family were initially living in a home in a “low-income area” but that there were too many problems – especially health-related problems – that they ended up leaving and finding the motel.
“We wanted to find something affordable, so we moved into a low-income area. We just got tired of infestations with rats and roaches and all this black mold. My daughters were getting sick. No heat and things like that. When it was cold outside, we had to bundle up with like four or five blankets in order to stay warm,” he described.
But living in a motel is far more expensive than renting a place month by month. Altogether, he said he was paying almost $2,000 a month just for the motel accommodations.
“All my tips and everything that I get to go straight to my kids, I pay for the room daily, pay $60 a day and it’s just eating my pocket alive,” he described.
What happened next was truly miraculous. According to Breitbart, the young boy set up a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising funds for Gardner and his family. It started out with a more modest goal and the hopes of maybe even just buying a car for the man. Breitbart explained what happened next:
So Hunter decided to set up a fundraiser to help his friend buy a car, explaining on the GoFundMe page that Gardner is a “hard-working dad” who “has to walk or get a ride to get to work every day.”
According to the GoFundMe page, the original goal was to raise $5,000, but the fundraiser soon wildly exceeded Hunter’s expectations. As of 9 p.m. Saturday, over $88,000 has been raised.
“The other morning, he said, ‘I was just trying to maybe make $5,000 and get him a car.’ Now, it’s turned into a crowd. We had no clue that this was going to happen,” the boy’s mom, Victoria Hunter, explained to TODAY.
Garner said his future plans include buying a car, finding an apartment to rent, and saving money for his two daughters’ education.
“It just be a blessing. You know, I’m always counting my blessings, always. Thanks. Anything that anybody gives me. So this is… it made me almost cry,” he said in an interview. “It just be a blessing. You know, I’m always counting my blessings, always. Thanks. Anything that anybody gives me. So this is…it made me almost cry.”
When asked how it felt to help Gardner out in such an impactful, life-changing way, Hunter simply said that “it feels great.”
“It just feels good to help someone else,” he shared.
Featured image: Screenshot from embedded YouTube video.
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