Elderly Walmart employees keep going viral on TikTok and GoFundMe – Insider

For the third time in recent weeks, an elderly Walmart employee has gone viral on TikTok and received thousands of dollars in donations to support him financially.
A 42-second-clip was posted to TikTok on December 17 by 53-year-old Rory McCarty, who can be heard explaining to a Walmart employee named Butch that other workers had gone viral on TikTok and received large donations through a GoFundMe fundraiser.
“Imagine that someone raised that kind of money for you,” McCarty said at the end of the video which received over 2.3 million views. The caption read, “We ought to do that for Butch. Who would donate?”
“I wanna donate to this sweet man!!!” a comment with over 1,800 like said. “This man needs to be the next #TikTokWalmartRetiree,” a comment with over 3,000 likes said. 
On December 19, McCarty set up a GoFundMe page called “Butch” which has received over 3,800 donations, in a bid to reach a goal of $100,000.
“We went to $50,000 in 24 hours, and then we went to $75,000 in probably less than 12 hours, so we’re about $25,000 every 12 hours,” McCarty told Insider. As of Tuesday, it has received $84,255 in donations.
The filmed interaction was the first time McCarty had ever met Butch, but he said the employee “melted my heart” and he was “amazed” by the fact the 82-year-old was continuing to work. 
McCarty said Butch told him over the phone on December 18 that he wanted to be fair to Walmart and give his two weeks’ notice before leaving, but he was “done” working at the store. McCarty said he also received a text from employees at Walmart who told him Butch was “so excited he’s dancing in the break room.”
In a follow-up TikTok posted on December 19, Butch said he’d been working since he was 11 years old, and spent 10 years in the Navy. He said he would use the money to “go to Florida to see my kids” and he would “enjoy my last 10 or 12 years I’ve got.”
“I’m so happy for him,” McCarty told Insider. “He can still stay active but stay active doing things that he loves to do, instead of just grinding at 82 at Walmart.” 
The trend appears to have begun when a TikTok creator called Devan Bonagura posted a video of an 81-year-old Walmart worker called Nola on November 3. The video quickly went viral, receiving over 30 million views, and a GoFundMe to help her retire raised over $100,000 within 24 hours. As of Tuesday, it has raised $186,318.
Her story was then referenced by another TikToker who posted a similar video on December 13, featuring an 82-year-old Walmart worker and a link to a GoFundMe to help her cover her medical bills, which she said were in the range of $10,000. The video also went viral, with over 14 million views, and has raised over $129,000. 
The stories are often met positively in the comments, with people referring to the elderly workers as “cute” and viewing the fundraising as a heartwarming example of collective empathy. 
But TikToks featuring “acts of kindness” have also drawn criticism. Some people who have been filmed for giveaway stunts in the past have described feeling “dehumanized” as a result. Critics have also suggested that individual fundraisers may be useful in the short term for those who go viral, but the trend can also oversimplify the root causes of the societal ills they depict. 
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.
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