Despite having to walk miles to and from work, a beloved custodian was always smiling and bringing joy to his school. However, he dropped to his knees in tears when his coworkers called him into the library.
For some people, a 30-minute drive to work is a hassle that might not be worth the effort. However, for Robert Reed, a 60-year-old beloved janitor at a school in Tennessee, there’s no distance that will keep him from serving the students and teachers he loves.
“Let’s say I get off at 3 p.m.,” Reed told WMC Action News 5. “Then I get home around 7 p.m. I stay at Millbranch and Winchester.”
Each day, Reed catches multiple buses and walks the rest of the distance to and from Farmington Elementary School in Germantown. While the dedicated employee has no vehicle of his own, he refuses to find employment closer to home because the faculty is like “family” to him. So, he makes the daily transfer, sometimes relying on the kindness of others if they offer.
“I have to catch three buses and walk two miles,” he said. “All the teachers have taken me to the bus stop. They even gave me money when I didn’t have any. I’m telling you, Farmington is a family here.”
Of course, the school feels the same way about Reed. Despite having only been at the school for four months, the cheery janitor had changed the entire atmosphere of the school for the better, WREG reported. That’s why all the teachers were in agreement that something had to be done to help their beloved custodian.
“No job is too big or too small,” Reed said. “I wanna make a safe, clean, sanitized environment for the students, the guests.”
While working his usual shift, Reed was called into the school library by one of the staff members. Thinking there was a mess that needed to be cleaned, he quickly headed to the room. However, he was a bit bewildered when he walked in to find all of the teachers waiting for him.
Before Reed could react, teacher Elizabeth Malone explained why his coworkers had called him there. To his astonishment, she and her colleagues had set up a fundraiser in order to purchase a vehicle for him so that he would no longer have to walk to and from work.
“We started a GoFundMe for you 21 hours ago,” said Malone. “And we’ve raised $7000 for you to buy a new truck.”
Overcome with emotion, Reed dropped to his knees and clung to Malone’s waist as he broke down in tears. The pair shared an emotional hug as Malone assured him, “You deserve it.”
“His work ethic is unbelievable,” she said, “and we want our kids to pick up on that, not only to have a good work ethic, but also if you see someone in need, try to help. It’s important to do that.”
Although the goal was to raise $10,000 for a decent used pickup, the fundraiser quickly surpassed even that amount. At the fundraiser’s conclusion, donors raised more than $49,000 for Reed, ensuring that he gets the truck he deserves.
“I love these people up here,” said Reed, wiping away tears. “I love them! And I couldn’t have made it without them. It’s a joy to work here. Pure joy.”
Reed has always wanted to start a lawn care business to supplement his income so that his coworkers won’t feel the need to help him. Of course, this was an impossible aspiration without a truck. Now, he is well on his way to achieving total independence.
His coworkers’ generosity has made Robert Reed all the more grateful to work at Farmington. Still, he admits that he would have continued catching buses and walking the extra miles just to keep working alongside individuals who return the love and respect he gives.
Reed’s work ethic and positive attitude are everything anyone could ever want in an employee. He deserves every penny that was raised for him, and we can only hope that his new business venture is just as successful as his job at the school.