A TikToker raised $186,000 for an 81-year-old Walmart worker to pay off her mortgage and finally retire after working for the retail giant for 20 years.
Devan Bonagura, 19, from New Jersey, went viral earlier this month when he shared a video of Nola Carpenter sitting in the break room during her shift at the Walmart in Hackettstown.
‘Life shouldn’t [be] this hard,’ he wrote in the on-screen text.
The heart-wrenching clip has been viewed more than 30 million times since it was posted on November 2. The overwhelming response from commenters led Bonagura to set up a GoFundMe to raise money for Carpenter’s retirement.
Devan Bonagura, 19, from New Jersey, raised $86,000 so Walmart employee Nola Carpenter, 81, could finally retire
The TikToker went viral earlier this month when he shared a video of Carpenter sitting in the break room during her shift. ‘Life shouldn’t [be] this hard,’ he wrote in the on-screen text
The clip has been viewed more than 30 million times, and the overwhelming response led him to set up a GoFundMe to raise money for her retirement
Bonagura later clarified that he was working for a third-party vendor that sells phones inside Walmart when he filmed Carpenter in the break room.
In a follow-up video, he claimed that a store manager asked him to take down both the viral clip and the fundraiser he started for her because the chain was allegedly receiving threats.
‘They’re getting a lot of backlash, so they told me I need to delete the video and delete the GoFundMe and return all the money to the people that donated it, or they’re going to get the cops involved,’ he said.
‘So, I told them to do what you have to do because I’m getting this money to this woman one way or another.’
Bonagura alleged that he was suspended by his employer, with pay, but it was worth it after he raised more than $100,000 for Carpenter in just 24 hours.
Bonagura surprised Carpenter with $110,000 in donations a few days later
Carpenter was grateful, but she explained that she would still have to work to pay off the remaining $60,000 on her mortgage
The GoFundMe was up to $110,000 when he surprised her with the money a few days later. Carpenter shared her gratitude for the donations, saying they will help her mortgage go ‘way down.’
However, it wasn’t enough for her to retire.
‘I’d accept it,’ she told Bonagura of the money, ‘but I’d still have to work until I get the other $60,000 paid off on the house.’
Walmart’s average hourly wage is roughly $17, meaning she had several years of working ahead of her if she wanted to pay off her mortgage in full.
When the GoFundMe reached $181,000, more than what Carpenter needed to retire, Bonagura filmed another update with her. (At the time of publishing, the total has reached $186,653 from 13,500 donations.)
Bonagura ended up raising a total of $186,000 for Carpenter to retire
Carpenter said she will continue to work at Walmart during the busy holiday season, but she plans on completely retiring on January 1
‘I feel good, and I’m thankful for Devan for what he’s done or none of this would have been possible,’ she said
‘I feel good, and I’m thankful for Devan for what he’s done or none of this would have been possible,’ she said. ‘That’s what I was working at Walmart for, to pay my house off.’
Carpenter shared that she will continue to work for Walmart during the busy holiday season and then retire in early 2023.
‘I’m going to completely retire the first of the year,’ she explained. ‘I’m going to help them out for the holidays.’
After working at the store for the past 20 years, she noted that she will miss seeing her regular customers.
‘They look for me every day,’ she said.