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He’s always offering advice and spreading positivity. Fairfax Co. students are thanking him with his dream car

Football players at James Madison High School in Fairfax County pose with school custodian Francis Apraku.(Courtesy Bennett Hibshman)

Before and after they lift weights, football players at James Madison High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, stop and chat with school custodian Francis Apraku.

He regularly keeps the area clean, something freshman Bennett Hibshman and his friends don’t take for granted. If it weren’t for Apraku, he said, there would be Wawa food wrappers everywhere.

Apraku also lets the athletes back into the area if they leave an item, such as a water bottle, behind.

Hibshman and his friends have come to enjoy their interactions with Apraku, who will often check on them. His positivity leaves a lasting impression, Hibshman said.

So, when the group learned that Apraku dreamed of having a Jeep Wrangler, they took action. A digital fundraising campaign has already raised over $18,000 toward its $25,000 goal.

“It means a lot that we can actually make a difference in someone’s life,” Hibshman said. “It’s pretty cool that the whole town of Vienna and even people outside of Vienna came together as a community to get this guy a car that they’ve never met in their life.”

The idea, which local news site first reported, stemmed from a conversation some students had with Apraku about his birthday. He said his birthday is Jan. 1 鈥 which at the time of the conversation, had already passed. When the group asked what he’d want as a birthday gift, he said, “You guys can never get me this, but I’ve always wanted a Jeep Wrangler,” Hibshman recalled, noting that Apraku liked the tire on the back.

It initially was a joke, and Hibshman thought the group was going to give him “a little present, just to show our appreciation of what he does.”

The original goal was to raise enough money that they’d be able to buy him the car by the time they graduate. But it became much more serious when raised $10,000 in the first two days.

The fundraiser was shared extensively on Facebook, and Hibshman heard from people outside the D.C. region praising the group for their act of kindness. Even Hibshman’s dentist and boss at work are aware of what they’re doing, he said.

“It’s amazing that it went this far,” Hibshman said. “It means a lot for us to be able to do something this big.”

Apraku has two kids in college, Hibshman said, and he routinely talked about his family in Africa. He’d tell them about his conversations with students, and “how he loves his job, because he always gets to talk to us and learn more about us. Us talking to him seemed like it meant so much to him,” Hibshman said.

Sometimes, Apraku offers the group life advice or spreads positivity. The goal, Hibshman said, seemed to be to always brighten their days.

The football players are still figuring out the details, like whether they’re planning to give him the money for the car or buy the car for him. But, Hibshman said, they’re keeping their plans secret for now.

“His reaction is going to be pretty cool,” Hibshman said. “That’s kind of why we’re doing it, to see his reaction. That’s probably the part we’re all most excited for.”

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for 91欧美激情. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school鈥檚 student newspaper.

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