JANESVILLE (WKOW) — Tom Hathaway is a mailman by trade, but to his community, he’s a whole lot more.
They call him "The Awesome Mailman."
It’s a job he’s held for 17 years and he loves it.
"They’re more than customers," he says. "I know a lot about them, they know a lot about me. Many have been to my home for different occasions. I’ve watched their children grow up."
It’s on his route, Tom’s found neighbors in need.
"I’ve seen people living in their cars. A couple of them I’ve actually been able to help by giving them phone numbers of people who could help them."
But he wanted to do more.
So, five years ago, Tom started a yearly fundraiser at his house, called Helping the Homeless.
"Via Facebook, it just started happening. People jumped on the bandwagon, everyone wanted to help and here we are!"
$26,000 has been raised so far.
The money stays in the community and goes to six different organizations.
Anna Martin-Frasier lives on Tom’s mail route and volunteers for the cause.
She says, "It’s nice, because it’s someone from our community that is going above and beyond on their own time and helping out people because he sees what’s going on here."
Tom also organizes a turkey drive every year.
With the help of local business owner Sal Gomez of Sal’s Landscaping & Garden Center, they were able to donate 60 turkeys to families in need this Thanksgiving.
"When people see you doing this, it makes them want to help. It makes people want to help others," says Tom.
It’s created a ripple effect throughout the neighborhood.
Now, Tom’s house has become a hub to drop off donations.
"People find it easier to drop stuff off to me. So, I have an office area in my house and then every once in a while I take the donations that were dropped off wherever they’re needed."
Neighbors helping neighbors, a community strengthened, thanks to The Awesome Mailman.