CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — Tuesday was a busy day for 15-year-old Paul Kane Maldonado.
The Ray High School student spent the start of his summer vacation selling bottled water at the corner of Port Avenue and Arlington Drive to raise money to take his girlfriend on a date.
“I mean, I didn’t want to ask my parents for money because I didn’t want to use their hard-earned money to take my girlfriend out on a date, so I had to go work for it," Maldonado said. "If I work for it, then I can take her out on something nice. Go out to eat or the movies too."
Paul's mom posted a photo of the teen at the street corner holding a sign, "selling water to take my Shorty on a date." The photo quickly went viral on social media.
Many people throughout the city of Corpus Christi showed an amazing outpour of support for Paul Kane Maldonado and his girlfriend since eighth grade.
“In eighth grade, we met a little after November, Thanksgiving break. Then we just became friends, and we started talking more and got together in February," Maldonado said.
"I'd be one proud mama. He sounds like a good kid. Hope he made a positive influence on others watching. These boys could all learn something from him," Kimberly Nicole said via Facebook.
"You raised him right! Awesome job, and good luck on the job opportunities! I love seeing young people work hard to earn that money," another Facebook user, Erika Cruz, said.
Other members of the community surprised Maldonado with several job offers and a free haircut from Headliner Barber Lounge so he can look fresh on his date. He even received two pairs of new Crocs from the Crocs store at La Palmera for him and his "Shorty."
“Kind of crazy, actually. I was really surprised. Then people were defending me in the comments too. Like, I really do appreciate that. I was not expecting that from strangers," Maldonado said.
Paul said what started as a joke in a family group chat helped him raise over $1,400 and learn an important life lesson about being self-reliant and having responsibilities.
"This is our son. He could of easily asked for money, but he refused it. He said he wants to make his own," Pauls's mom, Mel, said. "He does work with his uncles from time to time when they need extra help. So he came up with an idea to get some waters, an ice chest, ice, and post up down the street from our home."
Blake Miller, who is a barber at Headliners Barber Lounge, said that he knows how it feels to go on a first date, and that's why he is offering Paul a free haircut.
“Well, I was on Facebook, and I see a lot of people sharing his story, and I figured that I would help him out by giving him a free haircut because I remember how it was going on dates and not having a haircut," Miller said.
Paul said that he is happy to be a part of such a caring community.
“Thank you! I really do appreciate it because they did not have to do that. I’m just a stranger," he said. "I just wanted to take my girlfriend out, and I got a lot of stuff like a free haircut. She gets her makeup done and her nails. It’s crazy, and I didn’t think that would happen."
They plan to have their date this weekend at the Republic of Texas Steakhouse.
Paul hopes to be able to take his girlfriend on future dates with the money the community has given him.
Digital Content Producer, Myra Sanchez, contributed to this story.