Parent Brooke Thomas wanted to show appreciation to the janitors who worked two days to clean schools in the district

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 16, 2020 04:54 PM

A community rallied around their school district’s janitorial team after they worked tirelessly to clean buildings when someone on staff exhibited potential symptoms of coronavirus.

Schools in the Williston, Vermont, school system were shut down for two days last week after a member came down with cold-like symptoms after recently staying at a hotel with confirmed cases of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, parent Brooke Thomas told CNN. The district’s janitors were then dispatched to deep-clean the school to protect students and staff from potential exposure.

After coming across a post about the news on a Facebook page for parents of students, Thomas put forth the idea of thanking the janitors for putting themselves at risk for the sake of the children.

“I said that we need to recognize that these staff members who are going into potential contamination and a disaster zone, really, and putting themselves at risk,” Thomas told CNN.

“They were potentially exposing themselves to this virus and to harmful chemicals,” she added to Today. I think the comment made everyone realize that those were the people going right into it. That kind of started it.”

On Monday, March 9, Thomas set up a fundraising page for the janitors with a goal of raising $200, but that was quickly surpassed that same day.

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Outside of Williston Central School, one of the schools janitors cleaned after news of a staff member becoming sick
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“It’s already an under-appreciated job as it is and not one that gets a lot of respect,” she explained to CNN. “It was a feel-good way to get people to recognize that and promote kindness when this mass hysteria is happening.”

To her surprise, the page raised $2,000 for the janitors by the next day and only grew from there. By the time the fundraiser came to a close on March 16, the community had raised $7,450 from 249 donors.

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“[The custodians] see our kids on a daily basis and more times than not they know them on a first name basis,” Thomas wrote on the Facebook page. “Like many others they do their jobs without reluctance and they take pride in how clean they keep our schools. We are blessed to have such a hardworking crew.”

“I also feel really lucky to live in this community of kind and compassionate people. I hope we all can find other ways to support one another during this unpredictable time,” she added. “I know many of you already are. Keep passing the kindness and take care of yourselves.”

Thomas said the funds will be distributed evenly among eight members of the janitorial staff.

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