Henry Darby has been giving back to others since he was a child. So when he learned that students at his North Charleston High School were in need, he picked up an overnight job at Walmart to help.
Darby, a principal at the South Carolina school, works at the retail chain from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. stocking shelves, though not every day. Every paycheck goes toward helping his students, whom he affectionally refers to as his grandchildren.
"He's ready to help anybody," one student said on NBC's "TODAY" show on Friday. Another said, "He's impacting the community in a very special way."
Darby said that he has had students who slept under a bridge or in a car after falling on hard times. The high school principal got emotional as he described going to the home of one teenager and seeing a mattress on the floor.
"At my age, we don't ask for money, we just don't. You just go ahead and do what you need to do," he said.
About 90 percent of the student body at North Charleston is living below the poverty line. The community was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
To help ease that financial burden, Darby began working at Walmart.
He said that he hoped to keep the job under the radar, and was surprised when his story started making the news.
"The attention, I'm not used to it," he said. "I don't think that I've done anything worthy of distinction or to warrant the attention."
Darby said his only request of his students is that they pay it forward and help others. He said he learned about the importance of giving back as a child from his mother.
"Not only did I have to help others, I had to help others without charging them anything," he said. "From washing windows to visiting old folk's homes to cutting grass. I was not allowed to charge, I had to just give back to my community."
To honor the principal, Walmart surprised him on the "TODAY" show with a $50,000 check for his school. Darby said the donation will "go a very, very long way for our students."