School Raises Over $185,000 for Retiring Security Guard: 'I Was Not Expecting Such a Big Farewell'
04/15/2016 AT 12:10 PM EDT
Over 1,800 people have donated more than $185,000 through a GoFundMe page for Kief Tekle – a beloved security guard who worked at The Hockaday School for over 30 years.
"I had no idea it would get to this point," Abby Hoak-Morton, a 2005 Hockaday graduate who launched the page with her friends told The Dallas Morning News.
On Monday, over 200 people attended a celebration at the all-girls school where Tekle, who was tearing up, was presented with the check and a book filled every comment from the fundraising page.
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"I was not expecting such a big farewell," he said. "It means stability for my family."
"You're such an influence to so many of us," Hoak-Morton said to Tekle. "You have been such a major part of our lives."
"In middle school, he'd remember the make and model of my dad's car, and he'd tell me when my dad was at school," current senior Manisha Ratakonda told CW33.
Amy Patrick, who came to the school the same year as Tekle and graduated in 2000, said that he "kept us safe."
"When someone as pivotal in the community as Kief announces his retirement, it's breathtaking, but not entirely surprising the entire community has rallied like this," she said.
According to The Dallas News, Tekle came to the United States from Africa in 1984, and just a couple years later, landed a security position at Hockaday. He was soon promoted to work the carpool lines.
"This school is my life," Tekle said.