An 80-Year-Old Janitor Was Forced Out Of Retirement After His Rent Was Raised So High School Seniors Are Fundraising So He Can Quit

No one should have to come out of retirement just to keep on living, and these teens made sure that their 80-year-old janitor didn't have to worry.

Callisburg High School students with their janitor TikTok, Twitter

On February 15, 2023, high school senior Greyson Thurman, along with some of his classmates, posted a video on TikTok in order to raise money for their school janitor.

At the Callisburg ISD high school, 80-year-old Mr. James had returned from retirement in order to make ends meet — becoming the janitor for the learning facility and tugging at the heartstrings of students who didn’t think it was fair for him to have to work.


The high school students raised money for their 80-year-old janitor to quit his job and retire.

“This is our 80 y/o janitor who had his rent raised and had to come back to work. Let’s help Mr. James out!” read the TikTok video raising awareness for their fundraising efforts. In the video, you can see Mr. James slowly making his way down the long hallway with his cart.

“[GoFundMe] is in the bio! My classmates and I hate seeing Mr. James here, no one his age should have to be cleaning our messes up to continue to live,” read the caption. This is the only video on Thurman’s TikTok account, and boy did it go viral.


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Although the video itself only reached over 55,000 views — a relatively small viral success for TikTok’s standards — the impact was surely felt when it came down to the GoFundMe.

The fundraiser was created at the same time as TikTok, and within 9 days and thanks to 8,600+ donations, the Callisburg high school students raised $270,890 on GoFundMe.


According to FOX 4, Mr. James had his rent raised by $400 — ultimately forcing him out of retirement to make ends meet and continue living in his home. He had decided to work as a janitor for the school, even though he had previously worked in a different, undisclosed career.

“He's a hard worker. He's an older man, so he doesn't get around like the students do, but he's a worker,” said Jason Hooper, the principal of Callisburg High School.

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After hearing his story, three high school students decided to act.

Callisburg High School senior Marti Yousko was talking to her friend, Banner, during class when they heard about Mr. James’s story. “It got brought up the other day in class and me and my friend Banner were like, you know what we should start a GoFundMe, you know like those things people do on TikTok and it goes viral.”


Yousko and Banner enlisted the help of Thurman, who already had a decent following on TikTok, to post the fundraiser in hopes that it would gain more traction — but they never expected it to explode like this.

“We knew being in a small town like Callisburg that people would want to help and people would want to support us, especially with something like this, but I don't think we ever imagined that there'd be like news channels here,” said Yousko.

Originally, the plan had been to raise 10,000 dollars, but two days after the fundraiser had gone up, it reached over $28,000.


“I think God called us all to do it,” said Thurman. “Once I heard, ‘Greyson you should post it,’ something was heavy on my heart telling me, Greyson you gotta do it, and if you don't this guy’s going to keep working here.”

FOX 4 asked Mr. James for an interview, but he declined, still giving consent for his story to be shared. “He doesn't want any part of the spotlight. He's very appreciative of what these students have done,” said Hooper.

Fortunately, with the amount of money they raised, they were able to set Mr. James up for life and then some.


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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Keep up with his rants about current events on his Twitter.