In the 23 years he worked as a bagger at the Harris Teeter in Raleigh's Glenwood Village, Tim McCloud made an indelible mark on the neighborhood.
For Julie Caviness, he was her part-time therapist.
"He's just incredible. He's legendary here, I don't think he even knows it, that's what makes it so beautiful," she told WRAL's Keenan Willard. "He does not have a clue what a great impact he's had within our community."
Caviness said she's talked to McCloud about anything and everything in the checkout line over the years. They've even cried together, and he's watched her children grow up. And she's not alone. Caviness told the local news station that a number of her friends have similar relationships with the longtime grocery store employee.
This week, after more than two decades of commuting from Wilson to Raleigh, McCloud parted ways with Glenwood Village for a job at a Harris Teeter much closer to home.
Caviness told WRAL that she was heartbroken when he broke the news to her earlier this month. "I started crying," she recalled. "I was like 'you can't leave me.'"
But her mind quickly shifted to how she could thank McCloud for all he's done for her and the community. Caviness decided on a fundraiser and secretly launched a GoFundMe. She hit her $1,000 goal within an hour.
"I knew he had a fan club, we all talk about Tim and how kind he is. I don't think I had any clue how big his fan club is," she told Willard. "So then we hit five. Then my mom's texting me like every hour, 'what's it up to now?' Then we hit ten. And I'm like, 'oh wow.'"
By Tuesday night, McCloud's last shift, Caviness' GoFundMe had raised nearly $23,000.
Caviness also helped organize a special send-off for McCloud. On Tuesday night, hundreds of people gathered in the Harris Teeter parking lot to cheer him on with signs and balloons. Caviness presented a teary McCloud with the results of the fundraiser.
"You deserve it!" she exclaimed before embracing him.
By time of publication Friday, more than $31,000 had been raised for McCloud.
"It'll help me a whole lot," he told WRAL. "I'm blessed with it, you know."