A GoFundMe started by a little boy in Little Rock, Arkansas, has raised $90,000 in support of a local Waffle House waiter whose family is struggling financially.
Kayzen Hunter, just 8 years old, is a regular customer at his local Waffle House, where he and his family go for breakfast every weekend, Hunter’s mother, Vittoria Hunter, said today.
There, he meets Devonte Gardner, who Hunter is particularly fond of – and vice versa.
“Every time [Hunter] comes in, I always give him a high five because that’s what he expects,” Gardner said today. “He’s a great kid. Every time he comes in he tells me jokes like, ‘Hey, Devonte, I got a joke for you,’ and the next thing you know, we’re laughing.
“It got to the point where we always sat in his section,” Hunter’s mother said.
“Every time we walk in, he’s smiling so much, he’s always like, ‘Hey, Kaizen, how are you doing?’ she said.
Over time, Hunter’s family came to know about Gardner and his family — a wife and two daughters — and their financial struggles.
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After being forced to leave their old apartment due to poor living conditions such as infestations and health hazards, Gardner and his family were forced to stay in a motel.
“We wanted to find something affordable, so we moved into a low-income area,” Gardner said today. “We’re tired of rats and cockroaches and all these black mold infestations.”
He continued, explaining that his daughters were getting sick, and they often had no heat in the cold and struggled to stay warm.
“It’s just horrible,” Gardner said.
However, when Hunter and his family learn that Gardner has been living in a motel for the past eight months, Hunter decides he has to do something to help.
“He came home and told me, ‘Hey, Mom, Devonte’s going to walk or go to work, and I’m going to start a GoFundMe,'” Hunter’s mother said today.
Eventually, she relented and agreed to help Hunter raise the money.
8-year-old Kayzen Hunter raised more than $80k for his friend and Waffle House employee Devonte Gardner and his two daughters.
— Yasmin Vossaughian reports (@YasminMSNBC) March 4, 2023
He first started a GoFundMe on Feb. 18 with the goal of raising just $5,000 to help Gardner get a car.
“Devonte is a hard working father with two little girls and a wife. He is a dedicated worker and has to walk or ride to work every day. He was looking for a decent priced car and his family was unlucky and ended up in an apartment full of black mold. He had to kick his kids out and it set him back a lot,” the GoFundMe explained.
“We are now helping him get a clean rental property and want to help him even more by raising money so he has a reliable vehicle to drive his family and get to and from work.”
“Your heart is as big as mine and I hope you will help me spread kindness in the world.”
Since then, the fundraiser has gone viral, and they’ve raised more than $90,000 at the time of this writing, with the biggest contribution of $2,000 from an anonymous donor.
“That’s the crazy part for us,” Hunter’s father, Corey Hunter, said today. “I understand that, but the goal was $5,000, and people don’t care what the goal is; they just keep giving.
Today, Gardner also spoke with him during his morning shift break at Waffle House.
Thanks to the help of Hunter and his family, they were recently able to sign a lease on a two-bedroom apartment, and they’re even looking into getting their family a sedan or minivan, she told the outlet.
He said, “I save the rest because I want to send my daughters to a good school. I want them to be in a good environment.
“Everything I’m getting is going towards my daughters to make sure they have a better, better life. Make sure we don’t have to struggle anymore.
This article was originally published in The Western Journal.