Tia Benbow is a hardworking employee at Firestone Complete Auto Care in Columbia, South Carolina, but she was going to have to quit because she could no longer afford her long car commute, her co-workers said.
Her boss and co-workers weren’t going to let that happen, though. They pooled their money to surprise her with $1,300 to help with her finances.
“We’re family. That’s family. That’s what we do,” one of the employees can be heard saying in the background as an overwhelmed Benbow is left speechless, covering her face to hide her tears.
Eric Amos, one of Benbow’s co-workers, caught the emotional moment on camera when their boss, Charlie Brown, handed her the money. The video has racked up nearly 500,000 views in just one day on Facebook.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know it was being recorded,” Brown, who employees praised as being “a real hero,” told ABC News. “You always want to be there for your teammates. Knowing the situation she was in, we all decided to pull together.”
Benbow had already moved once to be closer to her job, leaving her son in high school behind with her mother so he wouldn’t have to leave his school’s basketball team in the middle of the season.
“I lived in Greeleyville, but I recently moved to the Wedgefield area, which is a little closer,” she explained. “It was 74 miles one way, but now I’ve cut it down to 30 miles. It would take me about two hours.”
Benbow used to work at another Firestone location that was closer to her home but transferred to the Columbia location because of complications with management.
“When I transferred here, I got sick and had to have major surgery done,” she said. “The first surgery was done in January and the second in February, and I did not return until the end of April. In the process, with me being out of work and having to take that drive, I did get one vehicle repossessed from me. The second one was in the shop, and it was in the process of being repossessed also because I could not afford to get it out of the shop.”
Her fellow employees were in the process of gathering the money to surprise her at the end of the week, but when word got out that she was preparing to put in her two-week notice on Wednesday, they decided to do it early.
“We knew she was feeling down. You could tell by her attitude,” said Amos, who took the video. “Normally she’s an awake person and smiling, and she wasn’t. She told us about the situation a couple weeks prior, so me and Charlie got everybody in the shop to pull the numbers together to get her taken care of.”
And that’s exactly what they did. Benbow now has her car out of the shop and was back hard at work today.
“They care. They wanted me to stay,” she said. “I had put in a two-weeks notice but they did not want me to leave. They said I was the reason they were making money, because I was making them money. It really touched me."
For her manager, it was a no-brainer to help her out.
“When you see something going on, you always want to be there for your teammates,” said Brown. “We did something that was helpful for someone else. That’s just what you do.”
“Charlie is the best. He actually is such a good man,” said Benbow. “If not for him, none of this would have been done.”