Kindness is an often forgotten quality, but not in the case of eight-year-old Kayzen Hunter and Devonte Gardner, his favorite server at a local Waffle House.
Gardner's quality service inspired Hunter to raise over $50,000 for Gardner, especially after hearing something about his favorite server's life.
Waffle House Is More Than A Place To Eat For Kayzen
There is nothing more Kayzen Hunter enjoys than having the traditional breakfast trip to their local Waffle House.
Besides spending time with his family, Kayzen looks forward to seeing his favorite server, Devonte Gardner.
Can I Take Your Order?
Every weekend, Vittoria Hunter, Kayzen, and the rest of the family eat breakfast at the same Waffle House in Little Rock.
Kayzen orders his favorite meal from Devonte, who he enjoys almost as much as the food.
"Devonte...Always Knows Exactly What I Want."
Kayzen, who was eight at the time of the story, would order hash browns and eggs, and they both had to have cheese on them.
Gardner made sure to make the order each time.
Besides how Devonte "always treats everyone with kindness," there are two other reasons Kayzen loves seeing his favorite server.
Without fail, every visit to the Waffle House guarantees he will hear Gardner's jokes and get high-fives.
Devonte Was Struggling
One breakfast, in particular, was more memorable for Kayzen than others. Hunter and his family learned about Devonte's struggles outside of work.
Gardner walked to work every day, no matter the weather or shift time.
Gardner Walked Several Miles To Work
Gardner asked the Hunters if they knew "where he could buy a cheap car" because he was having trouble finding one.
They later found out Gardner and his family live in a motel, where he walks several miles.
Mold Forced Devonte's Family Out Of Their Home
Devonte, his wife, and two daughters moved into a motel after being forced out of their apartment.
It was infested with rats and contaminated by mold, but the Gardners could not afford to move somewhere else.
Vittoria Was Affected By Mold Too
When Vittoria and her family had their mold issue in 2019, the experience affected more than her mind and heart.
"Vittoria got really sick from it, and Kayzen got rashes on his arm," said Korey.
Mold Knows No Mercy
Mold damage ruined the Hunter family rental property.
Korey vividly recounts in an updated story, "Our water heater leaked, and mold grew in the wall and blew out everywhere through the air conditioner return."
"We Have To Start A GoFundMe Page."
Once he learned of the situation, Kayzen expressed his desire to help his friend.
After talking with his family, he decided to raise money for Devonte by starting a GoFundMe page on his behalf.
$5,000? How About Raising $50,000?
With his mother Vittoria's help, Kayzen aimed to raise $5,000 for Devonte on the GoFundMe page they created for Devonte.
The amount ballooned almost overnight to over $50,000 once a local news station picked up the story.
"I Started Crying."
Gardner was understandably emotional when recalling the moment he had found out about the generosity of the Hunter family.
Not only was it enough for Devonte to buy his new car, but it also paid a year's rent in a new apartment for the Gardener family.
Gardner Suffered In Silence
Devonte admitted to struggling to pay expenses like the $60 they paid daily for their motel bill. He said, "he didn't want to ask anybody for anything."
He used a portion of the funds raised for him to pay the bills.
Welcome To McDonald's! Can I Take Your Order?
The positive vibes continued for Devonte and his family. His wife, Aissa Shorter, was hired at a local McDonald's.
Their story has been an inspiration to Devonte's customers and to anyone who learns about it.
It's All About The Family
Shorter and Gardner were so grateful for their most recent good fortune, but it did not blind them.
The couple made arrangements with their employers to work opposite shifts, so someone was always available to care for their daughters.
Amoura and Jade Gardner Were Devonte's World
Amoura and Jade were 2 and 3, respectively, when their family's inspirational story was initially reported.
What is more remarkable is that an 8-year-old boy was the source of their new life.
"We're Slowly Making Our Way Back."
When the dust and excitement settle, Aissa and Devonte know their journey has just begun.
They had to give up most of their belongings because they were poisoned with mold and confessed, "we're slowly making our way back," when giving a recent update.
Despite Devonte's Struggles, Work Was More Than A Salary
"I love working at Waffle House because I have an opportunity to make people feel good every day."
Thanks to the kindness of Kayden and his family, Gardner believes his story will resonate with others in similar situations.
Over 37 Million Americans Live In Poverty
The rising cost of living and the financial difficulties it brings affects millions like Gardner.
In his research, he discovered that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 37 million Americans live in poverty currently.
The Hunter's Could Relate
The displacement of Devonte and his family struck a personal cord with the Hunters, which was another reason they wanted to help him.
In 2019, they had to abandon a mold-contaminated rental property. While the circumstances were different, the results were similar.
"It Was Important To Kayzen And To Us."
Doing whatever they could to help Devonte's family was as important to Vittoria and her husband, Korey.
According to Vittoria, helping Gardner's family was"important to Kayzen-and to us-to help Devonte do the same."
The Numbers Of People In Devonte's Situation Is Scary
Gardner also learned while researching U.S. Census Bureau statistics paint an even scarier picture for Americans dealing with poverty.
The Bureau states approximately 13 million U.S. citizens are disconnected from federal programs that provide help for housing, child care, food stamps, and nutrition.
Double Shifts Are No Guarantee For Getting Ahead
Make no mistake about Devonte Gardner's sense of reality. He acknowledges that before the GoFundMe donations, working double shifts was not always enough.
Gardner said, "Even when you can work double shifts, it's hard to get ahead."
The Hunters' Careers Helped To Deal With Things
Korey Hunter is an electrician, and Vittoria is a real estate agent and owns a small business.
Their struggles made it easier to identify with Devonte's family. Korey stated, "It took a long time, but we're thankful that we could rebuild our lives."
Many Of Devonte's Customers Wanted To Help Him
When word traveled about Devonte's plight, it inspired the Hunters and many of his other customers.
A man who donated $25 to the GoFundMe page said, "This guy is ALWAYS in a good mood and a hard worker."
Devonte Quickly Found Out He Was Far From Alone
A woman who donated $20 shared her personal story and said she had experienced what Devonte had.
She said she knew what Devonte, "is experiencing, and I love it that he continues to spread joy despite his struggles."
The Support From Others Surprised Kayzen
Kayzen was no ordinary 8-year-old boy. He displayed the kind of empathy for Devonte that takes years to learn.
Hunter was happy and a little bit surprised by the overwhelming response from others wanting to help.
"Sometimes People Need A Little Help."
Anyone learning of Kayzen's kind deed for his friend Devonte will immediately discover his maturity beyond his young age.
Kayzen remarked, "Devonte is a positive person who works hard to make everyone happy. Sometimes people need a little help."
"He's My Best Friend For Life."
Not only was Devonte moved by Kayzen's kindness, but he also vowed to be friends with him forever.
Gardner said, "I'm really touched by it all. And as far as my little buddy goes, he's my best friend for life.
This Story Has An Even Happier Ending
With the generous amount donated to his GoFundMe account, Devonte wasted no time securing his family's future.
A month after Gardner's story came to light, he got a one-bedroom apartment for himself and his family and bought a brand-new car to go to work.