Danielle Franzoni was in disbelief when the check at her table had a $2,020 tip on it along with the words "Happy New Year" and "2020 Tip Challenge"

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Danielle Franzoni
Credit: Julie Riddle

A Michigan waitress started the new year on a positive note after she received an 8,700 percent tip from one of her customers in a random act of kindness.

Danielle Franzoni was shocked to discover that the person she had just waited on at Thunder Bay River Restaurant in Alpena on Sunday left her a $2,020 tip for their $23 meal.

“I asked my manager, was this real?” she recalls to The Alpena News. “Things like this don’t happen to people like me.”

The moment was even more special as the hours and months leading up to the generous tip were quite difficult for Franzoni, a recovering addict who recently moved to Alpena to stay clean after living in a homeless shelter one year ago.

Prior to going to work on Sunday, Franzoni, 31, told the outlet her neighbor’s house had burned down. She was also getting ready to spend the final day in her old home and anxiously preparing to move into her first house.

With the emotional events unraveling before her, Franzoni found herself crying once she arrived at work, she told the outlet.

That all changed, however, when she went over to the table and saw the tip, along with the words “Happy New Year” and “2020 Tip Challenge,” written across the check.

“They don’t know nothing about my story, they don’t know where I’ve come from, they don’t know how hard it’s been,” Franzoni explained to The Alpena News. “They’re really just doing this out of the kindness of their heart.”

The waitress and single mother, who has relied on a number of resources in Alpena to stay sober and rebuild her life, said she plans to use the tip money to get her driver’s license back and finish redesigning her daughters’ bedrooms.

“I’ve never been able to do that. I can’t wait,” she told the outlet, adding that the rest of the funds will go into a savings account for emergencies.

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That is, aside from $20.20, which Franzoni decided to leave as a tip for her server on Sunday night after receiving the generous New Year’s gift.

“That was my pay it forward,” she said. “I couldn’t do the other one.”

Franzoni said she dreams of opening a women and children’s sobriety house one day and hopes her story will inspire others to perform random acts of kindness in their daily lives.