TEMPE, Ariz. — Despite all of the negatives of 2020, the spirit of giving is very much alive and well. A complete stranger surprised a waitress with a massive tip and it happened at a restaurant right here in the Valley.
Based on Shawna Smythe's hard work ethic at the Perfect Pear Bistro in Tempe and her bright personality, you wouldn't know what the mother of three has been through.
In 2016, Shawna lost a child.
“That was a really dark time and I know other parents have gone through that and as a mom that’s like your worst nightmare," Shawna said.
And like so many others in the restaurant industry, 2020 has not been easy.
“It’s just been such a hard year," Shawna said.
It's stories like Shawna's that inspire Phoenix's Roger Webb.
“Everybody can give a little," Roger said.
Last year, Roger and his friends started a tradition. A large group of them went out to dinner and each contributed a hundred dollars to gift a lucky server a big tip.
This year, Roger knew he wanted to do it again. He turned to friends and his large following on social media. He made a Tik Tok video explaining his tradition to see if anyone was willing to chip in.
“I said hey here’s my Venmo send what you want! And literally, a dollar here, a dollar there, $10 here," Roger explained.
That's when a friend connected Roger to the owner of the Perfect Pear Bistro in Tempe.
“She just jumped she’s like absolutely I’ve got the perfect person," Roger said.
Roger and his friends went out to eat over the weekend. Shawna, their server, brought them their check with no idea what was about to happen.
Roger paid his bill then handed her $2,000 cash. Shawna couldn't believe it and fought back tears.
“I would be willing to say it was as impactful for me as it was for her. It shifted a lot of things in my life just to get out ourselves and help someone else," Roger said.
“My kids need new shoes they need new clothes. I know when they look under the tree they’re going to be so happy," Shawna said.
While Shawna cannot wait to see her kids' reaction on Christmas morning, she said the lesson of selflessness, giving and hope that this experience will teach her kids is priceless.
“I'm just like so thankful and I hope this story inspires somebody else," Shawna said.
Roger tells 12 News he hopes to continue to use his platform to surprise more deserving strangers and not just around the holidays.