SAN ANTONIO – A group of strangers has been working quietly for three years to surprise servers with a huge tip, but this year they decided to share their work in hopes of inspiring others to spread the holiday cheer.
Rachel Barney, a server at a Cracker Barrel on the South Side, was asked by her managers to take care of a large party of customers Thursday. At the end of the meal, she got the tip of her life. A $270 ticket resulted in a $1,300 tip.
“I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ I was like, ‘This is something that happens to other people. This doesn’t happen to me. This is what I read about on the news for other people,’” Barney remembers thinking.
The group at the table, led by Kevin Nies and his wife, collected $1,300 to give to a single parent working as a server.
“It was humbling to be the person that you read about on the news,” Barney said.
Nies was inspired to give a generous tip to a server three years ago after seeing it on the news. He and his wife decided to gather funds from people they know and give them to a server who’s struggling to make ends meet. He calls local restaurants and asks for their help to find the right person.
“Knowing that you made a difference in their life, even just for that one day, it really fills your heart with joy, and just it’s contagious. It really makes you want to just go help other people,” Nies said.
He said he doesn’t care how the server spends it because he knows it will go toward something they need.
In this case, Barney will treat her kids to an out-of-town trip, something she can rarely afford.
Nies shares his story hoping that others begin to give to those in need. He said since he posted it on social media, about 20 others have said they too have been inspired to give.
“That’s all I want people to do. Just pay it forward. We have a lot of evil going on in the world right now,” he said.