Paige has been working for Carolina Dining Services for nearly 40 years, and she’s faced some financial difficulties recently. But thanks to the ideas of two UNC students, things are starting to look up.
Sarah Adams, a sophomore psychology student, and Caitlin Ball, a senior journalism and political science student, have become good friends with Paige this past year.
Adams found out on Feb. 5 that Paige’s car had been broken down since Thanksgiving.
“I couldn’t understand why a Carolina Dining Services employee would not be able to pay to get her car fixed,” Ball said.
Paige filed for bankruptcy on her house last year and pays about $1,600 a month toward it. Her husband hasn’t been able to work for the past four years because of medical conditions and was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Paige’s son has also been in and out of the hospital recently. In addition to everything else, Paige also had knee-replacement surgery, and Ball said her bills had since been piling up.
Ball came up with the idea of creating a GoFundMe page on Feb. 6. The idea spread through Facebook and, as of Thursday evening, they’d raised about $6,700.
The initial goal was to reach $1,650 in order to help Paige pay for her car repairs.
“We reached our goal in 54 hours,” Ball said.
The goal has been extended since then to $79,000 in order to help Paige pay off the rest of her medical and bankruptcy bills. Ball and Adams said there is no deadline for those who want to contribute to the GoFundMe page.
A group of approximately 50 students gathered in Rams Head Dining Hall on Wednesday to surprise Paige. Adams and Caitlin presented her with a check for $5,000, and Paige burst into tears.
“I just felt love once I walked into the room,” Paige said.
“I knew Sarah was up to something because one day, this random student came in and said, ‘You’re going to get your car fixed’. But that’s all I knew.”
Paige has been staying in Chapel Hill with her daughter since her car, which she named Betsy, broke down. She goes home to Snow Camp, where her husband lives, on Fridays and comes back Sunday evenings for work.
“With all this stuff that’s going on in the world, it’s amazing that we can all get together regardless of race and help one another when they’re in need,” Paige said.
Amanda Yarbrough, a freshman majoring in management and society, attended the surprise reveal Wednesday.
“I think it’s great that any time somebody needs something or something happens, the community here can come together and be in support of somebody, even if we don’t know them.”