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Fired worker gets $12,000 gift from stranger

PORTLAND  — A $12,000 gift from an anonymous donor has made the holidays easier for a Portland family whose father lost a job after a news article described his challenges as a low-wage worker.

The Oregonian reports it confirmed the donation; it was made on Tuesday via an online fund set up for Keith Fons, his fiancee and three children.

The donor told the newspaper she felt inspired by how much Fons does to take care of his family and outraged that he was fired.

Fons' story of living on $11.50 an hour was featured on the newspaper's front page in November. The 35-year-old father worked 60 to 80 hours every week at two Subway shops to make ends meet. He managed one shop and worked the graveyard shift at another.

His fiancee, who has multiple sclerosis, isn't able to work. She receives a small disability check every month that covers some costs.

As a result of the article, Fons was fired from his overnight shift; he still works at the other shop. That meant losing $1,400 to $2,000 a month in income.

Fons has worked for Subway for nearly 13 years. Despite the long hours, he said he loved working for Subway and doing customer service. The company declined to comment on why one of his jobs was cut.

Although Fons worked up to 80 hours every week, he believed he did not accrue overtime because the stores were separate entities. State labor regulators said that is correct if the companies are truly distinct.

Hundreds of people have since sent money and gifts like coats and shoes to help the family. The donations helped pay their bills.

Job leads have also poured in. Fons found a new position that will pay $15 an hour at Attis Trading Co., a company that's opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Portland.

Fons said he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from strangers, including via the online account.

"I am just so grateful not only to this person but to everyone that has given," Fons wrote the newspaper in a text message after discovering the account had more than doubled overnight, to nearly $24,000.

Fons said he plans to use some of the money to pursue a business management degree by attending night classes. He hopes to turn that into operating a food cart someday.