A kind smile and meaningful conversation in an unfamiliar place can leave a lasting impact on someone’s life, and for over a decade, Mr. Joe has been that source of warmth for those at Grassland Elementary School. Now, the community is giving back to him.
Joe Love is a custodian at Grassland and a friend to many students and parents, one of whom is Courtney Skates Eoff, whose children have been involved at the school for three years. One day, Eoff was asking Love how he was doing, and he broke the news that he needed to undergo prostate surgery.
She said some of the Grassland staff members took up a collection to raise about $1,000 for Love’s surgery, but knowing he is a contracted employee and would have to take about three weeks off work without pay, Eoff began to worry about the bills that would come later.
“I was talking to some other parents, and I was like, ‘We’ve got to help him,’” she said. “So, we started this GoFundMe page, and when I started it, I had no idea what goal amount to put in there, … so I just put $5,000. And within six hours, we surpassed that goal.”
Now, 10 days later, 215 donors have raised nearly $13,000.
“It gives me chills,” Eoff said. “That just tells you what an impact this man has had on everybody’s lives.”
She said she consistently sees pictures on Facebook of her friends’ children with Love.
One parent of a former GES student, who preferred not to use her name, said part of what makes Love so lovable is that he always stops to chat and tell a story, something Eoff confirmed as well.
This parent said, one day when her now 21-year-old daughter was in elementary school, she shared a Milky Way with Love, and he made a mental note that this was her favorite candy bar. He later went out and bought a bag of little Milky Ways and kept one in his pocket just so he might slip her one in the hallway whenever he saw her next.
“He has touched each life, I think, in such a neat way by taking time for each person,” the parent said. “He’s not in a hurry.”
Eoff said, because Love doesn’t have a lot of family, she wanted to show him that he has a large community in his corner.
“I just wanted him to know that he can go into this surgery not having to worry about it,” she said. “We’re trying to take as much burden off of him as we can by helping him with his bills.”
She said, when she told Love what the community had done, his eyes welled up with tears, and he asked her, “Can you tell the people thank you?”
Love’s surgery was scheduled for Wednesday but has been postponed for medical reasons. To give to Mr. Joe, visit his GoFundMe page.