GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — It was the night before Christmas and Emily James wanted to help a man in need. But doing so would cost her her job.

James was a senior banker at the U.S. Bank call center in Gresham. She told KOIN 6 News she was working on Dec. 23 when a customer called, explaining that the bank had put a hold on his paycheck.

He said his bank account was empty. He said he wouldn’t be able to buy his kids presents and he wouldn’t be able to afford living expenses for several days.

Former U.S. Bank employee Emily James said she was fired after giving some of her own money to a man in need on Christmas Eve, Jan. 16, 2020. (KOIN)

James said she tried for two days to fix the problem but couldn’t get the paycheck to clear before the bank closed for the holidays.

So she asked her supervisor if she could leave work and fill the man’s gas tank using her own money. James said her supervisor agreed.

She met the customer at a gas station and gave him $20. But James said she was fired on New Year’s Eve for the incident.

“I can’t change the world but I can change the world for that one person,” James said. “I would rather my morals align with someone who’s more willing to support someone like that than someone who’s willing to throw away two-and-a-half years and a lot of dedication.”

James said she received 13 awards and numerous thank-you notes from customers and colleagues during the two years she worked at U.S. Bank. Now, she’s out of a job and no longer has medical insurance — and said some of her medications cost $1,900 out-of-pocket.

U.S. Bank told KOIN 6 they can’t comment on the story because it’s an employee matter.