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South Carolina principal works night shift at Walmart, donates paycheck to students in need

"At my age, we don't ask for money, we just don't. You just go ahead and do what you need to do," the beloved principal said.

South Carolina principal works night shift at Walmart, donates paycheck to students in need
Cover Image Source: North Charleston High School

A high school principal in South Carolina is being recognized for going above and beyond to help take care of his students. Henry Darby, the principal at North Charleston High School in North Charleston, South Carolina, is now being hailed a community guardian angel after news spread of him taking on a second job to raise funds for students in need. According to TODAY, Darby took on a part-time job stocking shelves at a Walmart store during the overnight hours after learning about the economic hardships some of his students face.


"A couple of years ago, I had two students, who were females, sleeping under the bridge. There was another situation where a former student of mine and her daughter were sleeping in their car, and another situation where a former student needed funds for her water and light bills," Darby told WCIV-TV. "I was taught if you have hands, find something to do. I came to myself and said perhaps I need another job, a part-time job." He now stocks shelves at an area Walmart three times a week from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and every paycheck from the job goes toward helping his students, whom he affectionally refers to as his grandchildren.


"At my age, we don't ask for money, we just don't. You just go ahead and do what you need to do," Darby told NBC News. He said that although he'd hoped to keep the job under the radar, one of his students recognized him on his very first night of work. "Very first night, someone yelled, 'Hey Mr. Darby, what [are] you working at Wal Mart for, aren't you the principal?' It blew me out of the water at the time, and I said, 'I’m going to do what I need to do,'" he said.


After Darby's determination to help his students has made national news, he's received close to $100,000 in donations from all over the country. The money will go a long way in helping the community as about 90 percent of the student body at North Charleston is reportedly living below the poverty line and was hard hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. "I get a little emotional because when you've got children you've heard, sleeping under a bridge, or a former student and her child, they're sleeping in a car, or when you go to a parent's house because there's problems and you knock on the door, there are no curtains and you see a mattress on the floor," Darby said, getting choked up.


Darby revealed that he learned the importance of giving back as a child from his mother. "Not only did I have to help others, [but I also] had to help others without charging them anything," he said. "From washing windows to visiting old folk's homes to cutting grass. I was not allowed to charge, I had to just give back to my community." He now hopes that his students will pay it forward and help others. "It's quite simple, simplistic: Just learn to help others. That is one of the greatest things that we could do in terms of human beings," he said. "I am an optimist. But I'm also a determinist. I know that it's going to get better. I know that these times will not always be with us. I know that my students will not always be in poverty. I know that because that's what we are. America makes it better for everybody."


Cynthia Solomon, the store manager of the Walmart where Darby works, was all praise for the part-time employee. "Even before we knew, there was something special about him," she said. "I would be so happy to have Mr. Darby for as long as he will have us as a part of his family and beyond." Solomon surprised Darby with a $50,000 check for the high school last week, telling him: "You're awesome and we appreciate you here at Walmart for all you are doing to serve your community." Darby, who said the donation will "go a very, very long way for our students," has no plans to leave Walmart.


"I would be doing a disservice to Walmart if I quit now because Walmart gave me an opportunity to work and help students, and now that we have dollars, I don't want to take the money and run. Morally and ethically, it wouldn’t be the right thing to do," he said. The principal also gushed about his school. "Incomparable, sir," he said of his students. "These students, they are the best of the best. We love them dearly."


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