When 28-year-old Veronica Juneau first starting shopping at the Walmart in Elk River, Minn., earlier this year, she was met with a fist bump by Ray Belanger, the designated greeter. In fact, she noticed that every person who walked through the glass doors, whether a child or an adult, was met with a high-five or a joke.
“He’s always just so cheery and lively,” says Juneau, who lives in Big Lake and is a full-time student at North Hennepin Community College. “When I’m having a bad day, he makes me feel happy. He doesn’t even try, it’s just who he is.”
After a local news station ran a story about Belanger last spring, members of a community Facebook group began to discuss joining forces to do something nice for Belanger. When the holidays came around, Juneau came up with an idea: she would start a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to raise money to give Belanger a special present this Christmas. She started with a goal to raise $2,000.
“We want to show just how much he’s impacted the community just by being himself,” explains Juneau. “And because he can’t receive gifts while on the job, I wanted to create an online campaign for people who moved away and miss his spirit, or don’t have time to meet with him outside of Walmart.”