TikToker Raised $170,000 For An Older Walmart Worker

A Walmart employee’s retirement fund has over $170,000 thanks to a 15-second TikTok video.

TikToker Dbon973_, actual name Devan Bonagura, recently shared a video on November 3 of a Walmart employee named Nola sitting by herself in the break area. (Bonagura then claimed he worked for a different company that supplies goods to Walmart, not Walmart itself.) Over the video, which has since had more than 24.1 million app views, he wrote in words, “Life shouldn’t be this hard.”

Bonagura created a GoFundMe the same day for the worker after receiving encouragement from comments. Over $100,000 has been raised in just 24 hours.

On November 5, he also uploaded a video of himself meeting Nola to hand over the account to her.

“They saw that you’re a very hard worker, obviously,” he told the woman. “We are all super proud of you, and we wanted to offer you the $110,000 that has been raised for you.”

“I’d accept it, but I’d still have to work until I get the other $60,000 paid off the house,” she told him, seemingly nonplussed at the donations raised. She agreed that the sum would help, noting that the mortgage would “go way down” and it wouldn’t “take long now” to save up the remaining amount.

For hourly employees at Walmart, the average pay is $19, so for Nola to save $60,000, she would probably need to work for a number of more years. She would earn $39,520 per year if she worked 40 hours per week, before taxes and daily expenditures like transportation and food are taken into account.

The GoFundMe has reached $168,800 as of this writing, which is about the total Nola said she needs to retire, which she stated she intended to do “after I receive it. The house is keeping me from leaving my job.”

For millions of American workers, retirement is not a given. A Boston College research from September 2021 found that 36% of elderly Americans lack the finances necessary to take care of themselves for even a year.

According to the University of Massachusetts-Boston Elder Index, a single senior person in good health who has a mortgage and lives in New Jersey, where the Bonagura appears to reside, would require $43,788 annually on average to fund retirement.

Walmart allegedly informed Bonagura that they were receiving threats as a result of his videos.

“They’re getting a lot of backlash, so they told me I need to delete the video and delete the GoFundMe and return all the money to the people that donated it or they’re going to get the cops involved,” he said in a November 4 video. “So, I told them to do what you have to do because I’m getting this money to this woman one way or another.”

Following Nola’s video, Bonagura shared more charitable content with his 132K followers, including a video in which he gives a waitress $500 for a cup of water. However, the TikToker’s charitable deeds are on a much smaller scale when compared to those of well-known online influencers.

Mr. Beast (whom Bonagura identified in previous videos) amassed a sizable 110 million followers for documenting money giveaways that resembled gameshows and charitable gestures in which he distributed millions of dollars.

However, detractors claim that documenting the plight of the poor and how they are helped by “acts of kindness” can dehumanise the subjects by emphasising only their perceived suffering and, while useful in the short term for raising money, oversimplifies the underlying causes of the social ills they portray.