Students raise money to purchase truck for custodian

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 10/10/19

Travis Kennedy is so much more than a custodian at Jasper High School — he's a mentor and friend.

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Students raise money to purchase truck for custodian

Posted

Travis Kennedy is so much more than a custodian at Jasper High School — he's a mentor and friend.

In honor of National Custodial Worker's Recognition Day last Wednesday, Jasper High sophomores Sam Hice and Preston Reed wanted to do a kind gesture for Kennedy, the man they have known since they were in the eighth-grade.

"He has a truck, but it's real old and beat up, and we just thought it would be nice to get him a new one," Hice said.

The two students quickly got to work and created a GoFundMe account to hopefully achieve their goal. What started with a $10 donation has now grown to over $6,000 in one week.

All donations to the GoFundMe account to benefit Kennedy will be matched up to $10,000, thanks to Carl Cannon Chevrolet Buick GMC in Jasper.

Jasper High Principal Jonathan Allen said many of the donations have come from students and community members who love Kennedy and want to make a difference in his life.

"The fact that he's known by his first name, that our kids see him as an encourager and a role model, that's just a testament to the kind of man that Travis aspires to be every day," Allen said. "His first words when we told him about this and what the kids had done, he said, 'There's probably somebody that deserves this more than me.'"

Kennedy gently shook his head and was in tears Wednesday as he watched a video where Hice and Reed talked about why they wanted to help him by raising money to fund a new truck.  

"I know who's behind it. It's God that's behind it. It has to be," Kennedy said.

The custodian, who has worked 22 years for Jasper City Schools, explained that his '89 Ford truck has been serving as a replacement vehicle for his old truck that was damaged in a car accident. Allen said Kennedy makes the 20-mile commute to Jasper High each day from Arley.

"Having a reliable vehicle to travel that distance is a good thing for him," Allen said.

Hice and Reed proclaim that Kennedy is their role model.  

"We chose Travis because he's always working with a smile. He's a great Christian man," Reed said. "One of the main things of 'The Viking Way' is humility, which Travis is one of the best examples of in the building."

"He's such a godly man. He's always reading his Bible, and he's just a great role model of how you should act and be like Christ," Hice said.

Allen spoke of how proud the entire faculty is of the student body for wanting to help Kennedy.

"Everything that they're doing for him, they're doing without anything expected in return, and that's truly what kindness and compassion is about," he said. "It's just amazing that a few teenagers could do this and overnight it take off like that."

He added, "They love our other custodians. We've got great nurses and office personnel. I think they just knew they could do something impactful for one, and he has an impact on their life.

"I think that's also what our faculty strives to do, whether they work in the lunchroom, whether they're a custodian, they seek to be an encouragement for our kids."

Kennedy was mostly speechless Wednesday to hear how much money had been donated in his name.

"I commend y'all for your love and compassion. It's overwhelming," he said.

When asked what vehicle he may purchase with the generous donations, Kennedy simply said he's a Ford man, but he'll appreciate anything.    

To donate toward the cause for Kennedy, visit www.gofundme.com and search "help us buy a new truck for Travis the janitor."