Child, 8, raises more than $37,000 to help his favourite Waffle House employee get a car
An eight-year-old boy has raised more than $37,000 to help his favourite waiter at a Waffle House get a car and new apartment.
Vittoria Hunter shared a GoFundMe page on 18 February to raise money for the restaurant worker, Devonte Gardner. Her son, Kayzen, introduced himself in the fundraiser’s description, where he described how he’s become friends with Gardner while getting breakfast at a Waffle House location in Little Rock, Arkansas.
He went on to share Gardner’s story, explaining: “He is a dedicated worker and has to walk or get a ride to get to work every day. He was looking for a decent priced car, and his family was unfortunate and ended up in an apartment riddled with black mould. He had to get his kids out and it set him back a lot.”
Kayzen went on to note that the fundraiser would help get Gardner “into a clean rental property” and purchase “a reliable vehicle to drive his family and get to and from work”.
He concluded the description by praising the employee’s work ethic and encouraging people to donate.
“Devonte is one of the most joyous and positive people you’ve ever met!! He always greets us with the biggest smile,” he continued. “I hope your heart is as BIG as mine and you will help me spread kindness in the world.”
As of 2 March, the fundraiser has surpassed its $5,000 goal and raised $37,877 through more than 1,000 donations.
Speaking to The Independent, Vittoria detailed how her son encouraged her GoFundMe page and how her family could resonate with Gardner, as they previously had black mould in their home.
“Kayzen begged me for months to start the GoFundMe, so we gave in to his big heart, seeing there was a need he was noticing and we wanted him to know his compassion was valid,” she explained. “We too have been badly affected by living in a rental with black mold, I ended up very sick, and us and our kids had to leave all of our belongings behind. Kayzen knows what that loss is like. It’s taken us all a long time to heal and regain lost belongings, but we all learned a lot.”
During an interview with THV 11, Gardner opened up about his job at Waffle House, and some of the reasons he loves working there.
“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.”
Gardner also shared more details about how expensive it’s been to live in a hotel, as he said he had to move out of his home after his daughters got sick from the mould.
“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 said.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Kayzen acknowledged how impressed he is by his friend, who always remembers what the eight-year-old’s usual order is.
“Devonte always treats everyone with kindness, and he always knows exactly what I want: hash browns with cheese and eggs with cheese,” the second-grader explained.
Gardner also told the publication that, because of the money raised so far, he can move his family into a one-bedroom apartment this month, and go shopping for the car.
He also expressed his gratitude for Kayzen and everyone who donated, adding: “I’m really touched deeply by it all. And as far as my little buddy goes, he’s my best friend for life.”
Vittoria also told The Independent that while the GoFundMe has surpassed its goal, her family still wants to help raise money for Gardner and his daughters.
“We would love nothing more than to see this sweet family be able to purchase, not only a family car, but a home to raise their little girls in,” she added. “Devonte has also mentioned wanting to open a business of his own, so to see him bring that dream to fruition would be incredible!!”