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Lionel Hahn/Getty; Kevin Ford/Instagram
One Burger King employee's story about an unimpressive gift for a milestone work anniversary with the fast food chain first caught the attention of the internet — then comedian David Spade.
Earlier this week, 54-year-old Kevin Ford marked 27 years working as a cook and cashier at the Burger King in the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. According to Ford, he was a remarkably loyal employee, never taking a day off work once.
Parent company HMSHost showed their appreciation for his service by presenting him with a gift — a single movie ticket, a Starbucks cup, some Life Savers, a bag of Reese's Pieces and a few other items stuffed into a clear, plastic backpack.
The gesture was quickly met with criticism across social media for how piddling it was. Ford's viral TikTok was flooded with comments criticizing the company, but users also pointed out his positivity and gratitude even after receiving the goodie bag.
Ford's daughter eventually created a GoFundMe to help raise money as an extra special way to celebrate his career milestone.
"He originally began working at this job as a single father when he gain custody of me and my older sister 27 years ago. Then as our family grew and he remarried, he continue [sic] to work here because of the amazing health insurance that was provided through this employer because it was unionized," Seryna wrote on the fundraiser's page. "Which got all four of his daughters through high school and college with full healthcare coverage."
"My dad continues to work here, because though he does look young, he is coming up on retirement age and leaving would cost him his retirement," she continued. "In no way are we asking for money or is he expecting any money but if anyone feels like blessing him he would love to visit his grandchildren."
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The GoFundMe had exceeded its original goal at the time of publication, raising more than $55,000.
Among the donors was Spade, who gave $5,000 and became the drive's top supporter.
Spade also reached out to Ford on Instagram to personally congratulate the the Burger King staffer.
Ford continued, "THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! For Even Watching the Video! I Love You My Brother!!! Much Love and God Bless. ... I think [I] might be able to take a day off."
Reacting to the news further, Ford said in a statement issued to PEOPLE: "Thank [you] David and everyone so very much! That's so kind of you. Much love and God bless."
In an interview with YouTuber Sierra Nicole, Ford opened up about how grateful he is for the support.
"I just want to say thanks to everybody out there. It's just so overwhelming," he said. "I'm just Kevin, you know. I just love everybody. I think that it probably touched people because I think we as humans, period, just need love and gratitude. And when you see someone like that, you know, ... I was happy to get anything. Some people got nothing, so I was just happy to get anything."
Burger King has also issued a statement on the matter: "The Burger King brand and its many franchisees nationwide are committed to recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the thousands of people serving across a wide range of roles — all dedicated to providing our Guests a world-class experience."
"Following review with this location's franchisee, we've learned that this video depicts a Team Member in receipt of a peer-to-peer reward in recognition of a short-term positive performance/experience," they added in a statement issued to PEOPLE. "The franchisee offers its Team Members a robust employee recognition program, which includes the recognition of tenure milestones and monetary awards."
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PEOPLE did not receive additional comment from Spade, Ford or HMS Host.