Altruism goes viral for school custodian

The+fund+for+Ollie+raised+over+%245000+in+a+single+day+from+teachers%2C+students%2C+parents+and+alumni+all+looking+to+donate.
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Altruism goes viral for school custodian

The fund for Ollie raised over $5000 in a single day from teachers, students, parents and alumni all looking to donate.

The fund for Ollie raised over $5000 in a single day from teachers, students, parents and alumni all looking to donate.

The fund for Ollie raised over $5000 in a single day from teachers, students, parents and alumni all looking to donate.

The fund for Ollie raised over $5000 in a single day from teachers, students, parents and alumni all looking to donate.

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On the front page of the Pathfinder, there it was, Juniors raise funds for custodian facing health issues. It seemed as if it were just a small, nice thing to do for the hard-working custodian, Ollie Caruthers, but it soon became a social media trend.

With the help of not only juniors Shannon Anderson and Emily Wind, the two who started the project, but teachers and even past alumni, the fund has exceeded expectations with a over $6300 raised in a single day.

“It started when I was walking through the hallway,” junior Emily Wind said. “I heard Mr. Bollmann talking to Ollie about his health issues. I kept thinking about it, so I went home and talked to my dad. He told me, ‘You can do something about it.’”

After Wind and Anderson collected donations at lunch and the initial story ran online, Publication teacher Debra Klevens posted the story on the Parkway West High School Publications Facebook page with the message “altruism at its finest.”

“I just kept watching the post views go up. By mid afternoon I was telling Dr. Mitchell and Mr. Bollmann we were at 8900 views. I knew we needed to take action and asked Dr. Mitchell if we could let the students run with it,” Klevens said.

At the same time English teacher Valerie Townsend shared the story link on her personal Facebook page. Comments asking how people could take action became the consistent trend across social media posts.

“Ollie is a great man! He did much more than custodial work. He was a mentor and a friend,” alumni Terreze Seiber said.

Ashley Steinkamp, a second Parkway alumni, suggested Townsend start either a Kickstarter or GoFundMe to pull in donations for Ollie.

“[Ashley] was the first person who said, ‘you guys should do crowd-kicking’, and I thought, ‘Oh! yeah, I’ll talk to Mrs. Klevens,” Townsend said.

Klevens planned on having Anderson and Wind set up the site because of their original involvement.

“Students were off school for a professional development day and Shannon was working the polls. I was taking students to Washington, DC for the National Journalism convention and wanted to make sure we responded to our viewers request immediately,” Klevens said.

Klevens and Townsend discussed the situation and Townsend took action.

“I had [low] expectations when we set this up. I was going to put $500 as the goal. It’s 2:45 p.m. and we’re close to three grand. This thing hasn’t even been up for 24 hours,” Townsend said.

Wind, among others, found Ollie’s kindness a major reason to donate to the cause.

“He’s just got a lot going on. I’ve never, ever talked to him, except hello in the morning. He’s just a really sweet guy, and I know it would make him happy and would warm his heart, so it’s just something we can do to help out our community,” Wind said.

He’s just got a lot going on. I’ve never, ever talked to him, except hello in the morning. He’s just a really sweet guy, and I know it would make him happy and would warm his heart, so it’s just something we can do to help out our community,”

— Emily Wind, 11

From all over the nation, alumni, parents, students and faculty have come together to help Caruthers.

“Let me tell you, this has renewed my faith. This reminds me that if you just come together as a community, you can effect change. And we are going to make a difference in this guy’s life, even just a little bit,” Townsend said.

Everyone says the same thing: Caruthers is happy.

“He’s happy. He’s humble. And he cares about this place,” Wind said.

Even in his struggling health and strenuous job, Caruthers goes through the day with a smile on his face.

“He takes pride in his job. No matter what the job is, no matter what form it is, if you’re gonna do it, do it well, and he’s such a model citizen for all of our students. I think it’s important that we acknowledge people like Ollie,” Townsend said “West is just a better place with Ollie.”

To contribute to Ollie’s fund, click here.

Update: The fund has, as of Nov. 7 at 9:45 a.m., collected $14299.

 

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