CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Contract workers at the University of Virginia were furloughed after the school announced it will remain closed because of the coronavirus.

UVA students, faculty, and the Charlottesville community rallied on social media asking for the university to support its contract workers during this time. On Monday, President Jim Ryan announced that the school is putting millions of dollars into an emergency assistance fund for its contract workers.  

Kathy McGruder, better known as Ms. Kathy by UVA students, is famous for her warm smile and positivity as she greets students coming into the Newcomb dining hall. She has worked for Aramark at UVA for 19 years and was one of the many contract workers furloughed because of the coronavirus.

Even during this uncertain time, McGruder remains positive and she said that is largely because of the support she has received from the community.

"A lot of people think no one cares, and then to have an outreach from a group of people that are trying to make ends meet themselves, for somebody to just, just love you like that,” said McGruder, “I think it's absolutely awesome and they got great things coming their way."

Lloyd Bramble, a UVA alumnus, started a GoFundMe for Ms. Kathy that raised more than $38,000 as of Monday from more than 1,000 donors.

Bramble said seeing her at the dining hall was one of the highlights of UVA, and he just wanted to give back to her.

"She has a genuine care for what's going on in everybody's life that you just don't find in many places,” said Bramble. “And I think that's why you saw the UVA community turn out in the fashion that it did. You can never forget Ms. Kathy."

Ms. Kathy joins the many others who were unexpectedly left without a paycheck. Siva Vaidhyanathan, a Media Studies professor at UVA, also started a GoFundMe for contract workers that raised more than $34,000.

After Ryan’s announcement that UVA is putting $2 million into a fund for contract workers, Vaidhyanathan now hopes to add his raised money to that larger fund.

"I'm convinced that President Ryan was aware of and concerned about this issue from the beginning,” said Vaidhyanathan. "However, I think it was student pressure that made things move faster and very likely made sure that this contribution from UVA was significant. Students ultimately have the strongest moral compass out there and they were quite articulate in their appreciation for these employees."

McGruder said she is so grateful for the community’s generosity.

"I can't say or show enough how thankful I am but I'm really thankful, very thankful,” she said. “And love you guys you know I do."

McGruder said she hopes to share some of the money that was raised in Bramble’s GoFundMe for her with other contract workers.

Ryan said the school is also donating $1 million toward the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation to support its efforts in helping families in the area who are also without jobs during the pandemic.

The emergency assistance fund will operate through June 1, and the school will reassess what is needed then. Ryan said they are working out a process for community members to continue to donate.