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A former teacher has been gifted $27,000 (£19,386) after one of his ex-students saw him living in his car.
Jose Villarruel, known as 'Mr V' by those he taught, turned 77 last week and was handed the generous cheque by Steven Nava, 21, who started an online campaign to raise money for him.
A popular figure among his students, Mr Villarruel had been a teacher for decades.
But when the coronavirus pandemic struck last year, and schools moved to remote learning, he resigned and has been living in his car ever since.
Speaking to Fox 11 Los Angeles, he said: "I decided the school situation has changed completely and I believed that a job of a substitute was over.
"In May, I submitted my resignation. I managed to do all of the paperwork, all of the arrangements to get my pension.
"I got my cheque, but that cheque didn't last long because I had debts already."
Adding: "My body has been adapted to all of the bumps and things from the [car] seat.
"It serves me as transportation, serves as a dining room, and serves as a bedroom."
After spotting him in his car recently, Mr Nava gave his former teacher $300 and then set up a GoFundMe page to help raise more funds, posting his story on TikTok.
Since then he has gone on to raise an incredible $27,000, which he presented to Mr Villarruel as a cheque during a birthday celebration at the Fontana Community Senior Center last week.
Mr Nava said: "It's just the power of social media is so big now and sometimes we need to use it for good, and not for bad."
The Mayor of Fontana, Acquanetta Warren, attended the emotional event alongside former students who had been taught by Mr Villarruel.
One of the former pupils was Melissa Lopez, who said: "Everybody always recognized him because when he would go into the classroom, he always has such good energy and he would always be so sweet."
Speaking about the generous gift, Mr Villarruel said he couldn't believe it and that he plans to give something back.
He said: "My initial thought was, 'Am I dreaming?' I still can't get over this experience.
"The greatest feeling that I have right now is like an obligation that I need to do a lot for the world and the greatest feeling is I can do it and I'm going to find a way to do it."
Featured Image Credit: Fox11
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