The Night Shift

This South Carolina Principal gives Daily Double a new meaning in the absence of the late Alex Trebek. Henry Darby, the principal of North Charleston High School, has taken on a second role working the night shift at Walmart in order to further provide to students in need. Daily he works a double in order to meet the needs of both current and former students.

Beginning in August 2020, Henry has doubled his efforts to support his students – as we saw many families throughout our country continue to experience hardship amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Henry works the 11pm-7am shift at Walmart and goes directly from this shift to the high school where he is acting principal. In the district of Northern Charleston, where Henry works, 90% of the student body lives under the poverty line.

“I get a little emotional, because when you’ve got children you’ve heard, sleeping under a bridge, or a former student and her child, they’re sleeping in a car, or when you go to a parent’s house because there’s problems and you knock on the door, there are no curtains and you see a mattress on the floor […] and these people need – I wasn’t gonna say no. And at my age, you know, we don’t ask for money. We just don’t. You just go ahead and you do what you need to do.”

As Henry works day and night to support students in need, what is his hope? He hopes students follow his lead by living a life of kindness – “it’s quite simple, simplistic: Just learn to help others. That is one of the greatest things that we could do in terms of human beings”

His manager at Walmart learned of his efforts to support students and stated that from their initial meeting she just knew there was something special about him. It was made known to the company of Walmart what he was working for, with every paycheck he earned going solely towards students immediate needs, and he was presented with $50,000 from Walmart in January 2021 – “The work ethic that he has just to come into work after his other two jobs is just really remarkable to us.” This donation was in addition to the over $100,000 donated through a GoFundMe account created to support this mission.

100% of all funds donated are going directly to the students in need to purchase food, pay bills (to ensure heat/electricity/etc.), funds have also been provided to support engagement in college/higher education.

One individual made a special independent donation. He donated $1,000 for each month for one year and awarded ten students $5,000 scholarships. This is the beauty of community. The support is often available when the need is brought to light.

“He’s there when you least expect it but when you need him the most.”

– Student

Working with teenagers is accompanied by glorious moments and challenges each day. Often in our adolescent or teenage years we feel a place such as Walmart is “beneath” us – we couldn’t fathom the thought of being caught roaming those aisles. Many students took note of their principal stocking shelves and were able to understand that it’s not beneath them – they now work alongside their principal.

Notably, Henry was taken aback by the acknowledgement of his efforts. He often stated he hasn’t done anything worthwhile of this notoriety; “I don’t think I’ve done anything worthy of distinction to warrant the attention.” It’s this purity in his actions that we must hold onto. Henry didn’t get a second job, pull overnight shifts and donate his income for a pat on the back – he does it to meet a need, he does it to support those he loves, he does it because he cares, he does it because they’re humans too. Too often we see good deeds done with the need for recognition, there is purity in this action and what it provides not only directly to students but to the larger community on how to give with purity in our hearts.

“He is the epitome of service before self”

How do we embody this purity of heart? Henry recalls those who supported him in times of need. He hopes to give back to the community because there was a community of people supporting him as he aged and developed. When his father passed away when he was only three-years-old, the members of his church community pooled their money to purchase him a suit to wear to the services. When his mother passed away when he was 17, family members came together around him in support. He states “I can say that people really helped me get to where I am today” focusing that being born into poverty doesn’t mean he can’t give back especially with a community around him. In these days, there is hardship on every level – even if we can’t give much, what we can will make a difference. Do what we can with what we have and do it with purity in your heart.

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