An Ontario Tim Hortons worker set to receive a large payout thanks to a community crowdfunding effort says he plans on sharing some of the funds with his teammates and donating some to others in need.
Hundreds of people have contributed to a GoFundMe campaign set up in honour of a drive-thru window operator named Vishnugopan (Vishnu) Sothilingam, who works at a Tim Horton’s near Bathurst Street and Rutherford Road in Vaughan, Ont.
“If you’re having a crummy day, just go and get a cup of coffee from him and he’ll make you smile,” Matthew Shulman, the creator of the campaign, told CTV News Toronto.
“He just makes everybody feel happy and it just shows that there are good people out there who go above and beyond.”
Sothilingam’s positive attitude, silly jokes and fist bumps captured the attention of numerous regular Tim Hortons customers, including Shulman, who decided to create the crowdfunding campaign after hearing that Sothilingam supported his family and had to leave school for financial reasons.
The goal for the GoFundMe page was originally set at $10,000, but as of Wednesday more than $21,000 has been raised. Shulman told CTV News Toronto that he posted the website to a community group and quickly about $8,000 in donations poured in.
After that, Shulman said, media reports gave it a bit more exposure.
“All of a sudden, we were getting donations from all over the world,” he said.
Sothilingam, who has worked at Tim Hortons for more than 10 years—or most of his life as he put it—told CTV News Toronto that he was shocked to hear of the community fundraising efforts.
“Honestly, I just do my job,” he said. “I'm pleased and happy to see them every morning and they give me a great vibe and I try to keep that energy back to them.”
“A smile doesn’t cost. It’s pretty free.”
The 28-year-old added that it helps he is doing a job he loves, talking to people he finds inspiring and kind.
“It's nothing extraordinary, just doing my thing and I was enjoying it.”
Sothilingam said that while he doesn’t know what he is going to use all the money for, he hopes to be able to share some with his co-workers.
“My team plays a big role in making me into who I am,” Sothilingam said. “I'm definitely going to share some sort of money and then keep the rest for somebody whose going to be really in need.”
Sothilingam said he would like to help those in his parents’ home country of Sri Lanka get education or contribute in some way to make a difference in people’s lives.
Only after that and helping take care of his parents does Sothilingam say he would consider paying for his own schooling or doing something for himself.
“I have all the things I need here,” he said, adding that he is going to continue to do the job he loves. “A lot of people don't have this.”
As for Shulman, he said he is thrilled that more than 500 people have contributing to the GoFundMe campaign and hopes more will come.
“The more money we raise, the happier it makes me for him,” he said.