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"I just wanted to help, even if it’s just a little bit," generous stranger Tami Vaughn said

By Rachel DeSantis
April 03, 2020 10:53 AM
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Cropped image of woman waitress in apron hold out bill folder to cafe visitor of cafe or restaurant.
Credit: Getty

When an out-of-work Los Angeles waitress found herself unable to pay her apartment rent, a stranger thousands of miles away stepped in.

Shujana Anthony loved working at Rosa Mexicano, but recently lost her job after the coronavirus forced businesses across the country to close indefinitely, she told CNN in a segment that aired Wednesday.

“I don’t know how [I’m going to pay my $1,100 rent],” she said. “It would be very self-centered of me to think that I could pay my rent knowing that I lost my job with probably 30 percent of people in America. So I was able to call them and they didn’t respond, so that gave me confidence that maybe they understood that no one could pay their rent at this time.”

Luckily for Anthony, Tami Vaughn was watching the segment, and immediately reached out to the network to offer to pay Anthony’s rent for her.

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A shocked Anthony received the news live on air Thursday.

“Shut up! I’m very grateful. Thank you Miss Vaughn, I really appreciate it,” she said. “I’m a little shocked right now and overwhelmed, but yet super grateful.”

Vaughn said she was moved by Anthony’s story, and knew it was something that many Americans were dealing with amid the pandemic.

“I just wanted to help, even if it’s just a little bit, and maybe she can pay it forward, even if it’s years from now, and to whomever she wants,” she said. “Just spread kindness. I hope it helps her in any way.”

Meanwhile, Anthony said she’d strive to improve the lives of people around her.

“I can’t sit and be sad,” she said. “I need to take this opportunity to think, ‘What can I build for those who don’t know what else to do?’”

More than 6.6 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment in the week ending March 28, a record-breaking high that brings the total for the last two weeks to about 10 million people, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.

As of Friday morning, there have been at least 244,228 cases and 6,257 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to The New York Times.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.