NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – North Charleston High School Principal Henry Darby spends his days providing strategic direction for his school and making sure students are achieving academic success – but by night, he’s stocking store shelves as a way to give back to students who need it the most.
Over the past few years, Darby had several interactions with students – both current and former – who had fallen on hard times, and after hearing their stories and struggles, he decided it was time to give back.
“I had two students, who were females, sleeping under the bridge and there was another situation where a former student of mine and her daughter were sleeping in their car,” he said before explaining another instance where a former student needed assistance in paying some of their utility bills.
Amid internal discussion, Darby told himself he needed to find another part-time job so that he could help others in need. “I was taught if you can find something to do, do it,” he said.
Darby, a longtime Charleston County Councilman, began applying for positions over the summer. “Walmart gave me an opportunity to work so that I may help my students.”
After working as principal at North Charleston High School, Darby spends his time stocking shelves at Walmart in North Charleston on certain nights – earning extra pay that goes towards assisting students and families in a time of need.
But it’s not just the funds – his willingness to work the job has made an impact on other students.
“There are some kids that felt Walmart is beneath them. But now that they have seen the principal working at Walmart, I now have some kids who work at Walmart with me. They feel it’s no longer beneath them,” he said.
Darby is proud that the students now see any work that is honest is okay to do themselves.
While he hoped to keep the job under the radar, recent attention in the news put the spotlight on his efforts. “I didn’t expect the attention,” he said. “I simply wanted to work for Walmart without fanfare and to use those resources for my students. But my very first night someone yelled out ‘hey, Mr. Darby, you work for Walmart? Aren’t you the principal?’ and it blew me out the water,” he laughed.
As news about his efforts spread throughout the community, so did the public in their willingness to help and give back.
A GoFundMe was created nearly a week ago to help Darby raise funds for those in need. “Help us raise money for Local Hero, Principal Henry Darby and his efforts to help low-income students at North Charleston High School,” the page’s description reads, with a goal of raising $20,000 by the end of the month.
By January 26th, the page had already raised more than $50,000.
Darby also noted that a gentleman recently stopped by his office to offer $1,000 for 12 months in addition to giving ten $5,000 scholarships to students.