Acts of Kindness
Beloved custodian doesn’t win award so mom raises $35K for him instead
Mr. Brown had no clue he was going to be presented with such a huge "thank you gift."
Elijah Chan
10.18.21

When someone gives you an entirely different prize for losing a contest, and a bigger one at that, you know you did something spectacular.

Raymond Brown has been working as a custodian for the White Oak Elementary School in Edenton, North Carolina. And as a man with a ton of responsibilities in his institution, he takes his job seriously and with a lot of heart.

Through his years of service, people have come to admire how he treats students and teachers alike. He’s always the first to arrive and is always available if they need help. His deeds were so impactful that he was nominated to a local recognition contest for exemplary school staff.

The North Carolina School Heroes contest fielded out a grand prize of $10,000 to honor people like Brown.

YouTube Screenshot - Beth Brabble
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Beth Brabble

So when he was not chosen as one of the winners, one parent decided to give him an entirely different award and the recognition he deserves.

“I was heartbroken,” Adrian Wood, one of the contributors for TODAY Parenting said. “I cried, and I don’t cry over competitions. But this wasn’t mine, it was Mr. Brown’s.”

Wood is a mother of four. Her children went to White Oak including her youngest son Amos.

“Sending three typical kids to school — you’re sad, but you’re excited for them,” Wood explained to TODAY. “Sending Amos to school was such a different path. He was three when he started school. He was in diapers and he didn’t speak. But after Mr. Brown started saying ‘hello’ to him and calling him ‘Famous Amos,’ Amos started saying, ‘Hey Brown,” when he saw him. He wasn’t even saying ‘Daddy’ at that point, so it was really something.”

Amos has autism and socializing with other kids can end up differently.

But because of Brown, it was easier for ‘Famous Amos’ to relate and connect with other kids his age. The more Brown gave him attention, the more the kids noticed and became closer to Amos.

Brown broke whatever boundaries that held Amos and his classmates apart.

“You have this man that everybody loves suddenly paying attention to this little boy,” Wood added, “Amos is a hard friend to have. He takes a lot more than he gives and that’s tough for children. But those kids saw that he was popular and loved and they started fighting over who would get to hold Amos’ hand on the way to the classroom. It meant so much to me for him to be so favored by the other children at school, and Mr. Brown had a big hand in that.”

YouTube Screenshot - Beth Brabble
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Beth Brabble

When Wood posted about Brown and the results of the School Heroes contest, the community rallied around her.

They pitched in money for their beloved custodian and raised $35,000 in just a week.

On March 20, Wood and the school community gathered at the nearby waterfront park. People close to Brown told him that they would be taking photos in that area to celebrate his 38th wedding anniversary. He was in his tuxedo when he marched into the waterfront park, only to see a crowd of people cheering for him.

YouTube Screenshot - Beth Brabble
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Beth Brabble

They dressed him in a crown and a sash, as one of the chief academic officers read the original nomination letter in front of the crowd.

YouTube Screenshot - Beth Brabble
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Beth Brabble

It describes how invaluable Brown is to their community. From greeting kids with high-fives and fist bumps, to making sure that the school grounds are clean and safe for learning. He may not have won the state-wide contest, but he surely won the hearts of teachers, parents, and kids alike.

Pixabay - Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke
Source:
Pixabay - Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke

What will Brown do with the prize? He says they’re going to use it to visit relatives they haven’t seen since the pandemic. His wife is also planning some house renovations. As for him, a used work truck will suffice.

Watch the video below to see Mr. Brown be presented with the award! Isn’t this such a heartwarming story?

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Elijah Chan
hi@sbly.com
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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