Kind 8-Year-Old Boy Steps In After Learning His Favorite Hardworking Waffle House Employee Was Struggling

They've raised over $100,000!

A Waffle House employee and an 8-year-old boy who started a fundraiser for him. GoFundMe

Becoming a usual at a restaurant, where a server remembers your order right when you walk through the door, can be a comforting experience. 

Vittoria Hunter and her family have been going to a Waffle House in Little Rock, Arkansas, for breakfast every weekend. For a year, they’ve requested to be served by their favorite waiter, Devonte Gardner.

Her 8-year-old son, Kayzen Hunter, has become particularly fond of Gardner — they high-five each other when he enters the restaurant, and they love to joke around.


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But when the 8-year-old heard the Waffle House employee was struggling, he stepped in.

On top of Gardner’s warmheartedness, the second grader was always impressed with his care.

“Devonte always treats everyone with kindness, and he always knows exactly what I want: hash browns with cheese and eggs with cheese,” Kayzen said.

However, one trip to Waffle House with his grandfather changed his perspective entirely.

“Devonte said he wondered if anyone might know where he could buy a cheap car,” Kayzen said. “He’d been having a hard time saving for one.”


He also learned that Gardner had been walking several miles back and forth from work each day. Gardner, his wife, and his two daughters, Jade, 3, and Amoura, 2, were living in a motel room. They had to leave their apartment eight months earlier due to a rat infestation and his daughters getting sick from black mold.

“All my tips and everything that I get it goes straight to my kids,” Gardner said. “I pay for the room daily, pay $60 a day and it’s just eating my pocket alive.”

Kayzen went home and told his mom that they needed to help Gardner.

Together, they launched a GoFundMe on February 18th to help him pay for a car and a rental home.

“He kept saying, ‘We have to start a GoFundMe and help Devonte get a car,’” Vittoria said. “He didn’t give up on it. He’s a kid with a big heart.”


They set a goal of $5,000 and had raised $700 before a local news station covered the story.

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“I’m always counting my blessings and always thankful for anything anybody give me. So it’s—,” Gardner said, choking up in an interview with the station. “It made me almost cry.”

The Hunters related to Gardner’s black mold situation, saying they had it too at a rental house in 2019 — it made Vittoria sick and gave Kayzen rashes.

“We had to give up most of our belongings because of the mold, but we’re slowly working our way back,” Gardner said. His wife recently was hired by a McDonald’s, working opposite shifts from him so one of them could be home to care for their two daughters. 


People who personally know Kayzen and Gardner donated to support.

“I am so proud to be your teacher Kayzen! Your heart and compassion for others is incredible,” a woman wrote under the GoFundMe along with her donation.

“This guy is ALWAYS in a great mood and a hard worker!” another man added.

On March 6th, Gardner’s birthday, the fundraiser hit six figures. Vittoria shared on Facebook that someone waited to donate $400 to make the donations hit exactly $100,000.

“I started crying — I’d been quietly struggling and didn’t want to ask anybody for anything,” Gardner said.


He plans to move his family into a one-bedroom apartment this month and go shopping for a car.

“Devonte is a positive person who works hard to make everyone happy,” Kayzen said. “Sometimes people just need a little help.”

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Ethan Cotler is a writer living in Boston. He writes on entertainment and news.