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Former Students Help Out Ex-Teacher Down On His Luck

They raise $27K for Jose Villarruel, who is living out of his car in California
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2021 2:23 PM CST

(Newser) – "Mr. V" got some help from former students. Fox 11 reports that 77-year-old former substitute teacher Jose Villarruel of Fontana, Calif., had run into hard times of late, made worse by the pandemic. When former student Steven Nava, 21, came across Villarruel living out of his 1997 car, he gave him $300. Then he launched a GoFundMe page, asking others who knew Villarruel to chip in. The result? On Thursday, Nava and other former students presented their ex-teacher with a check for $27,000, reports CBS News. “I’m still trying to digest the entire experience,” says Villarruel, who had been teaching as recently as 2020 before schools shifted to online learning. “It’s extraordinary, totally unexpected.”

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Nava says he acted after seeing Villarruel in his neighborhood. “Every day I’d go out to work around 5am and see him going through his trunk, and I just felt the need to do something about it,” he tells CBS. It wasn't clear whether the money would be enough to help Villarruel find a permanent residence; he estimates he's been living out of his Ford Thunderbird for about eight years because local rents are out of his price range. Either way, the money is a huge help. "I still can't get over this experience," he says. "Am I dreaming?" (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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