TikToker raises more than $170,000 for Walmart employee to retire: ‘Life shouldn’t be this hard’

TikToker raises more than $170,000 for Walmart employee to retire: ‘Life shouldn’t be this hard’

A TikToker has raised more than $172,000 to give to a Walmart employee so that she will be able to pay off her mortgage and retire.

Devan Bonagura, who goes by the username @dbon973_ on the app, captured the attention of TikTok users when he shared a 15-second video of an elderly Walmart employee named Nola.

In a clip Bonagura shared on 3 November, he filmed Nola, who was wearing a Walmart employee vest and nametag, staring down at her lap as she sat in the break room at the Walmart where he said she works.

“Life shouldn’t be this hard…” Bonagura wrote in a text caption on the short video, before adding in the caption: “I feel bad.”

The video went viral on the app and has been viewed more than 26.2 million timesm Many viewers urged the TikToker to set up a GoFundMe so they would be able to assist the Walmart employee.

Bonagura listened to the requests and created a fundraising page to raise $10,000 for Nola, which he titled: “Let’s help Nola retire.”

“Nola works at Walmart and that says enough. Let’s all come together and help,” he wrote in the GoFundMe description.

In a follow-up video shared a day after the initial video about Nola went viral, Bonagura promised his followers that the Walmart employee would “receive 100 per cent of the money that was donated”.

“She is going to get every single dollar that was donated,” he said.

The TikToker then claimed that he had been contacted by Walmart about the viral TikTok, and that the company had told him it had received threats and backlash over the video. According to Bonagura, the retailer then allegedly instructed him to delete the video and the GoFundMe, and return the money to all those who had donated, or face police intervention.

“So, I told them: ‘Do what you gotta do, because I’m getting this money to this woman one way or another,’” he claimed. Bonagura then clarified that, despite suggestions that he was trying to “scam” Nola, he only wanted to help her because she “looked sad”.

In another video update shared a day after his original video, the TikToker seemingly fulfilled his promise and reunited with Nola to give her the money he had raised in 24 hours.

In the clip, the TikToker asked Nola whether he could film the interaction and she agreed.

Bonagura then formally introduced himself to Nola before informing her that he’d posted a video of her to his social media account and received an outpouring of requests to help her retire. He then told her about the $110,000 he’d raised at that point, and asked whether she would be willing to accept the money.

“They saw that you’re a very hard worker, obviously,” he told the Walmart employee. “We are all super proud of you, and we wanted to offer you the $110,000 that has been raised for you.”

In response, Nola said: “I’d accept it, but I’d still have to work until I get the other $70,000 or $60,000 paid off the house.” However, she said the money would help tremendously with the mortgage.

“It won’t take long now with all that money,” she said, adding that she would retire as soon as she gets it. “That’s what’s holding me at work - the house.”

The TikToker then explained to Nola how many people wanted to help her.

The video also saw one of Nola’s family members transferring the GoFundMe into the Walmart employee’s name. Bonagura concluded the video with a photo of himself and Nola, which he captioned: “We love you Nola.”

The gesture, as well as Nola’s reaction to the money, has been met with both amusement and happiness from Bonagura’s viewers.

“Nola’s like: ‘That’s cool and all, what about the other $70,000?’” one person joked, while another said: “Maybe excitement just doesn’t run in the family. But still so happy for her.”

“This is so beautiful, I’m so happy for her,” someone else said. According to another person, Bonagura’s actions showed the “positive side of social media”.

Other viewers expressed their dedication to continuing to raise funds for Nola, while many said they also wanted to ensure that Bonagura could find a job if he were let go because of the videos. “Let’s get her the other $70,000 so she can be stress-free from paying off her house,” one person said.

The video also prompted a response from the official GoFundMe TikTok account, which said: “This is exactly why we exist. Thank you for helping her!”

As of Thursday 10 November, the GoFundMe has far surpassed its $10,000 goal, as more than 12,000 individuals donated a total of $172,061.

In a follow-up video posted by Bonagura on 13 November, Nola addressed that while she’s not working at Walmart for much long, she’ll still be there during the holiday season.

“I’m going to comfortably retire the first of the year,” she said. “I’m going to help them out for the holidays, and then it’ll be good to stay home.”

According to a recent survey from financial services company Charles Schwab, Americans believe they need $1.7m on average to retire.

The Independent has contacted Bonagura and Walmart for comment.