Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres wrote a $10,000 check Friday to a sobbing 22-year-old single mother and Ruby Tuesday waitress who paid the lunch tab of two National Guard soldiers during her afternoon shift.
"You're a good person," DeGeneres said, enfolding Sarah Hoidahl in a warm embrace. "You're a good person."
Before that DeGeneres had Hoidahl recount the good deed to the live studio audience. Hoidahl, who is pretty and blond and lives with her mother and 15-month-old son, Ashton, in Concord, N.H., said she overheard two uniformed women at lunch discussing what to eat.
They said they had to keep it light since they had been furloughed as a result of the government shutdown and were therefore not getting paid.
"It just got me thinking, 'Geez, that's really difficult'," Hoidahl told DeGeneres. "I'm a waitress and a single mother. I know how it is."
So instead of giving the women a check when they finished their meals, Hoidahl gave them a note.
"Thanks to the government shutdown the people like you that protect this country are not getting paid, however I still am. Lunch is on me thank you for serving ladies! Have a good day!" the note read.
The bill was $27.75 and after that Hoidahl went home with $8, which as she pointed out, wasn't even enough to pay for gas.
Nonetheless, in a classic tale of paying it forward, the National Guard soldiers posted her note on Facebook and it went viral. That's how DeGeneres got wind of Hoidahl's act of kindness and invited her on the show.
At first DeGeneres just fished $27.75 in cash out of a ridiculously large purse. Then she gave Hoidahl a 50-inch TV set because she heard that Hoidahl's TV was broken. She saved the writing of the $10,000 check for last.
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