Students come together to raise money for IU employee in need

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) - It's easy to get lost in the crowd at a school as large as Indiana University, but at the convenience store in McNutt Quad, it seems everyone knows Oscar Arreaza.

Oscar has worked as cashier at the C-store for 8 years, going out of his way to acknowledge each person who comes through his checkout.

"Happy Friday to you. Any weekend plans? How are you today," he says with a smile. "I'm awesome today, awesome. It's a fantastic day," he adds.

Oscar could say it's been a fantastic few days for him.

"How do I feel? Oh my goodness, I feel up in the skies you know," he said Friday, grinning ear-to-ear. "She spread it out like a wave and I was not expecting this."

"She" is IU freshman Becca Richter, who sees Oscar almost every day as she picks up something for breakfast or lunch.

Becca said when she arrived at IU last fall, she felt "very out of my element at such a giant school, even though there were people from my hometown."

Oscar helped with the transition.

"He was so nice and so positive and easy to talk to," she said. "The minute you meet him he's like a best friend, he's so sweet to everyone."

On Wednesday, when Oscar told Becca his daughter in Venezuela needed surgery and he needed help raising $3,000 for it, she didn't think twice.

"I kind of just thought I'd ask my mom and couple of friends to donate and call it a day but as soon as we started telling people Oscar needed help, everyone wanted to help," she said.

Word spread quickly on social media. Donations began coming in, including a large one from the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. They gave $3,000, money leftover from previous fundraising.

In fact, less than four hours after Becca put out the call, they had exceeded collecting what was needed for Maria's surgery.

The students put the checks and money in a shoe box Oscar was going to use to collect donations, and surprised him.

Oscar was overcome with emotion.

"Oh my goodness, I got shocked," he said. "Wow, to see that love."

And it continued to pour in.

Becca stopped at the checkout Friday afternoon to share news of more donations. They had raised more than $9,000.

She read Oscar some of the 600 or so messages that had come in.

"For Oscar: We both remember him from when we were freshman in 2010."

Several had come from people who didn't know Oscar and had no affiliation with IU.

"This one's from San Diego," she said. "Some are from Texas. It's crazy, isn't it?"

Becca said donations ranged from $2.00 to $200.

"This is all for you," she told Oscar. "Everyone wants to help you, that's why it's happened so quickly."

Becca said the money above and beyond what's needed for surgery will go toward covering other medical expenses and making sure Oscar and his wife can go back to Venezuela to see Mariana.

"When someone gives you something from their heart to your heart, you have to receive it and take it as a gift from God," Oscar said. "I feel a lot of gratitude."

Becca said she and others are also grateful... for Oscar.

A sweet video was shared on Twitter.