COLUMBIA, S.C. (CBS Local) — A group of college students in South Carolina are trying to raise $75,000 for a fast-food restaurant employee who lost his home in a fire.

Malcolm Coleman says the house he shared with his mother erupted in flames on his birthday a year ago in January. Coleman and his mother escaped the electrical fire, but the house became uninhabitable.

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“It was just crazy and overwhelming, and it still just shakes me up sometimes,” Coleman told the University of South Carolina’s student newspaper The Daily Gamecock.

They could not afford to repair the home due to a lapse in their insurance, so he and his mom have had to stay with friends and family since then. In addition to their housing challenge, Coleman’s father and both his older sisters have passed away, making him the “only living child of his mother.”

“It’s kind of opened up old stuff because, you know, I wish my sisters were here to help us cope and deal with this situation,” Coleman said.

But when third-year finance and risk management student Robert Caldaroni heard the story, he took action.

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He persuaded his business fraternity to start a GoFundMe page for Coleman, who works at Wendy’s across the street from USC’S Darla Moore School of Business in Columbia.

Caldaroni calls Coleman “one of the many unsung heroes of the Carolina community.”

“Walking into Wendy’s, you’ll hear Malcolm just calling people by name in line before they even order and, kind of, talking with them. He has this really strange ability to, if he talks to you twice, he’ll remember your name and your order, which is just really special, honestly, for a lot of kids,” Caldaroni said.

Third-year international business and marketing student Alexis Braz created the video for Coleman’s GoFundMe campaign, which was launched Feb. 10.

“It’s not often that you meet somebody that treats you the way that Malcolm does, especially in a fast-food setting,” Braz said. “He’s like the type of person that takes pride in what he does, and he really makes you want to come back.”

Coleman says he’s overwhelmed with gratitude for “these beautiful acts of kindness.”

“Working in fast food isn’t easy,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Sometimes you feel completely disregarded as a person. …. Thank you all ever so much for loving me for me and for valuing all that I do.”

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As of Thursday morning, Malcolm’s GoFundMe page had raised more than $21,000.