In an astonishing turn of events, a young man saw an older woman working in a Walmart store and couldn’t help but wonder about her circumstances. After learning that she could not retire because she needed to pay off her mortgage, he decided to remedy the situation.
Devan Bonagura from New Jersey was oblivious to how drastically his life would change—all because he extended a helping hand to someone who needed it the most. It was an event that taught him eye-opening lessons and inspired several others to do the same.
It all began when he posted a 15-second clip on TikTok—his fifth video on the popular video-sharing platform. While Bonagura had his reasons for sharing the short video, even he couldn’t have anticipated the response it would receive.
The young man’s video showed an elderly lady sitting at the break room table at the Walmart in Hackettstown, New Jersey, during her shift. As of November 28, the clip has become a viral sensation, garnering 30.8 million views and 4.6 million reactions.
While the elderly woman was grateful for his help, she expressed the amount wasn’t enough to pay her mortgage fully.
The senior citizen in the video turned out to be Nola Carpenter, a New Jersey resident who had been working for the giant retailer for over two decades. Within a short time, the viral clip amassed thousands of comments from netizens far and wide. Its in-lay text read:
“Life shouldn’t [be] this hard.”
While some hinted that Carpenter seemed tired and on the verge of giving up, others expressed a strong desire to hug her and help make her feel better. Given people’s overwhelming response, something tugged at his heartstrings, and Bonagura knew he couldn’t stand aside and watch.
Eventually, Bonagura learned that the reason Carpenter had been working instead of enjoying her retirement was to earn enough money to pay off her mortgage. However, with Walmart paying $17-$19 to its workers on average per hour, it would have likely taken the older lady a long time to gather enough money.
So, to help ease her woes and in response to a commenter’s suggestion, Bonagura created a crowdfunding page for Carpenter with the title, “Let’s help Nola retire.” The caption read:
“Nola works at Walmart and that says enough. Let’s all come together and help.”
Bonagura later revealed that he didn’t work at Walmart but was employed by a third-party company that sold products there. In a follow-up video on November 4, the young man updated his followers on Carpenter’s story and made shocking revelations.
He noted that a store manager told him to remove the viral video and delete the fundraising page because the popular retailer had allegedly been threatened and received severe backlash. But Bonagura said he was crystal clear about his stance on the matter:
“So, I told them to do what you have to do because I’m getting this money to this woman one way or another.”
The New Jersey youngster claimed that he was even suspended from his job with pay, but none of that mattered because he was glad he had been able to help Carpenter.
In another video posted on November 5, Bonagura gave Carpenter a surprise visit, and after a brief chat, he transferred $110,000 raised through the fundraiser into her account. While the elderly woman was grateful for his help, she expressed the amount wasn’t enough to pay her mortgage fully.
Carpenter said she would have to continue her work until she could make an additional $60,000, and given her hourly wage at the store, it would have taken her too long to save up such a considerable sum. So, Bonagura confirmed that he kept the GoFundMe page open until it reached $186,323 from 13,500 donations.
On November 14, 19-year-old Bonagura shared an update video with 81-year-old Carpenter, where he did a small Q&A round with her. “I feel good, and I’m thankful for Devan for what he’s done, or none of this would have been possible,” said Carpenter, adding that she had been working at Walmart to pay off her house.
Having worked at the retailer for over 20 years, Carpenter became nostalgic and expressed that she would miss meeting her regular customers. She also confirmed that she would continue working during the holidays and retire at the beginning of 2023.
Bonagura’s efforts to help Carpenter were widely recognized and appreciated by netizens when the lovely story gained traction on other social media platforms, such as Facebook:
“Well done young man. You are a credit to your generation.”
— (@dian.coulthard) November 25, 2022
“So glad you could do this for this lady I know it’s hard to work as old as she is there’s a lot of associates at work at this age just to keep them self going but when you have a mortgage and have to still work no matter what that’s bad God bless you (sic).”
— (@taximom121) November 25, 2022
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