The men's hockey team at a Minnesota college is raising money to send the school's longtime custodian on a trip to his homeland.
According to the GoFundMe post, Minasie Theophilis has been a custodian at Augsburg College for over 25 years. Among his duties, the ice arena is his main responsibility – from cleaning the locker rooms and bathrooms to washing the glass before weekend games.
And the team says he keeps it spotless.
"The pride Minasie takes in his job is contagious," Christopher Johnson, the creator of the post, wrote.
But Theophilis has become more than just the school custodian to the students at Augsburg. Johnson says he has had "an enormous impact" on the college, making friends with everyone that he encounters. Plus, he always remembers alumni when they return to campus, greeting them with smiles and hugs.
"He encourages the entire Augsburg staff with his bright smiles and his positive energy," the post says.
For all of his years of hard work, the team thinks their custodian deserves a reward – to be able to visit his family, who he hasn't seen in more than a decade.
Johnson explained that Theophilis came to the U.S. from Ethiopia 33 years ago, leaving behind his parents and seven brothers and sisters. A few relatives have visited him in the U.S. since then, but it was over 10 years ago, and he hasn't been able to afford a trip home.
On top of that, his mother died recently, and he didn't have the money to fly home for her funeral.
When the team found out, they knew they had to help. Last Wednesday, they set up the GoFundMe page to help him fly overseas to visit his father and siblings. They planned to surprise the custodian once the goal was met.
In less than nine hours, the fundraiser had surpassed its $3,000 goal. With high interest in the story, the team decided to tell Theophilis they were fundraising to help him visit his family, but didn't give him all the details.
On Wednesday, they'll present him with a check for over $5,000.
This initial gift will be used to send Theophilis to Norway, where his brother lives and their father will be visiting, the News Tribune said.
But that's not all. WCCO says the team plans to continue fundraising to send Theophilis and his wife to Ethiopia for an extended stay next winter.