| Fosters Daily Democrat
DOVER, N.H. — Like many restaurant employees across the country, 2 Home Cooks server Arianna Gutierrez says 2020 has brought a series of struggles as she’s done her best to provide for her 5-year-old daughter Ryleigh.
So, when a kind group of strangers left her a $953 tip with their breakfast bill Saturday as a Christmas surprise, the 22-year-old single mother says she was shaking because she was so overjoyed and overwhelmed at the “very beautiful” and “generous” gesture.
“I’m so thankful. Nobody has ever … I didn’t … there are people out there that care,” Gutierrez said while searching for words to convey the impact of the tip Monday. “There are people out there that understand and want to help, and it’s amazing they’re actually in Dover and around me.
“I will never forget it.”
A group of 14 people left the tip around 9:30 a.m. Saturday on a $232 bill. The breakfast and lunch eatery shared an image of the tip — a large stack of $100, $50 and $20 bills — on its Facebook page later that afternoon.
The group of people who left the tip would like to remain completely anonymous, a representative of the group told Foster’s Daily Democrat.
The representative said this is the second year they’ve selected a local server to surprise with a large Christmas tip, specifically doing so to directly help a single mother who might not otherwise be able to afford Christmas on their own.
Gutierrez said the tip helped turn around a recent run of challenges and bad luck.
Gutierrez has been slightly behind on rent and utilities in her apartment because she has bounced between being laid off and working reduced hours due to COVID-19 shutdowns and orders.
As a result, Gutierrez couldn’t do much for Ryleigh’s 5th birthday this year and was wondering if she could give her a Christmas. Compounding that are other struggles — including the fact she got hit with a tow truck bill and a parking ticket during last week’s snowstorm, one day before she received the $953 tip.
“I just was not expecting it,” she said. “It was just a huge blessing in disguise. It’s just something that doesn’t happen. You see it on social media and you read about it and you see videos of people doing it and raising money and you think, you know, ‘One day, that will be me hopefully. Keep working, keep working, keep myself together.’ I honestly never thought it would happen to me.”
Gutierrez said she’ll save the bulk of the tip — something she hasn’t been able to do much of this year because COVID-19.
Saving is something she’s familiar with, though. Gutierrez said her mother raised her from a young age to work hard and “do pretty much everything” on her own.
“I do it all for me and (Ryleigh),” said Gutierrez, who had her daughter at age 17 in 2015. “Nothing ever has been handed to me. For someone to hand me that much money toward Christmastime, it’s just — I don’t like to ask for help. I’m shaking right now thinking about it.”