People.com Human Interest Ala. High School Janitor Who'd Been Walking to Work Surprised with New Car: 'I'm Just Thankful' Samuel James received a new car courtesy of his colleague Deborah Pippin By Rachel DeSantis Rachel DeSantis Instagram Twitter Rachel DeSantis is a writer/reporter covering music at PEOPLE. She has held various roles since joining the brand in 2019, and was previously a member of the human interest team. As a music writer, Rachel interviews everyone from rock-and-roll legends to up-and-coming stars for magazine feature stories and digital news stories. Rachel is based in New York City, and previously worked as an entertainment reporter at the New York Daily News after getting her start as an Entertainment Weekly intern. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. People Editorial Guidelines Published on March 18, 2021 07:31 PM Share Tweet Pin Email High school custodian Samuel James has been walking to work ever since his car gave out on him — but thanks to the kindness of a colleague, his days of traveling by foot are over. James was recently surprised with a Toyota Highlander SUV outside of Citronelle High School in Alabama, and the emotional moment was captured on video later shared to the school's Facebook page. "Our custodian Samuel James has been without a vehicle for some time, and has also been down with an injury recently," the school wrote. "We at Citronelle High wanted to help him out and get him back on his feet. Thank you Sam for all your years of service and for keeping our athletic facilities and our grounds in great shape!" The sweet moment came courtesy of Deborah Pippin, an English teacher at Citronelle, who'd been looking for someone to take the 10-year-old car off her hands, she told Meredith affiliate WALA. Meanwhile, James — who's been working at the school for the past 13 years — had recently told Principal Randy Campbell that he was saving up to buy a new car after his engine blew. 77-Year-Old Substitute Teacher Living in His Car Gets $27,000 from Former Student's Campaign The timing was just right. "I was in a conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Pippin, and was talking about some recent purchases," Campbell told WALA. "They'd bought a couple of new vehicles, and they had this Highlander that they wanted to give to somebody, and asked if I knew anybody, and I said sure, Sam was the first one in mind." For the Pippins, keeping the car close was the perfect solution, as the vehicle has sentimental value, and was the car they used to bring their children home from the hospital. "I just can't think of somebody better to be able to give it to, and it's going to be very special to see him have it," Deborah Pippin told the outlet. For James, the kind gesture was one that moved him to tears. Chick-fil-A Employee Wins Car, Then Gifts It to Co-Worker Who Commutes on Bicycle "I've known this family for a good eight, nine years that I've been here. And they've always been good to me," he told WALA. "And I'm just thankful that the lord sent them my way and let me get this right here. And I'm blessed to have this, and blessed to have them as real good friends, the Pippins." The school community was thrilled for the longtime custodian, and many used the school's Facebook post to leave comments of support. "This is amazing, brings me to tears cause he is the most amazing and sweetest man, always putting a smile on students faces as long as I've known him!" one person wrote. Added another: "So deserving for the man whom has tirelessly worked for CHS! He has an awesome soul. Way to go Mr. Sam!" Catch People (the TV show!) Monday through Friday. Check your local listings for exact times or stream the show every day at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT at People.com and PeopleTV.com.