Waitress Receives $10K in Tips from Strangers — Thanks to Help of One Generous Customer: 'Needed This'

"Times are tough for everyone, and y'all didn't have to do this," said IHOP waitress Jazmine Castillo

An Atlanta waitress recently received the surprise of a lifetime after a customer who was impressed with her service decided to give back in a major way.

Rita Williams was preparing to enjoy a meal at a local IHOP restaurant when she crossed paths with waitress Jazmine Castillo, according to NBC affiliate WXIA.

Though Williams stated in a Dec. 1 Facebook post that Castillo was "stretched so thin" that day, she said she was genuinely impressed how Castillo "remained professional, so kind, patient and just overall provided amazing customer service."

Wanting to show her gratitude, Williams decided to give Castillo a $20 tip — for her $30 breakfast.

"So I gave her the $20 and she was like, 'Are you serious?' And I'm like, 'Yeah, it's $20,' " Williams recalled to CBS affiliate WCGL. "And I was like, here, and I handed her another $20."

Castillo was blown away by the generous act, telling WXIA that she would've had to wait on at least five tables to make that much money in tips.

"When she handed me the $20 I was so grateful, and then she handed me another $20, and that's when I lost it because $40 is what I pay for child care a day," Castillo told the outlet.

But the kindness didn't stop there. The two women kept talking and Castillo revealed how much she had been struggling lately.

"She told me that she [was] ready to quit cause [she] can't afford to Uber to work and pay for daycare for her daughter," Williams wrote in her Facebook post. "She wasn't planning on coming to work cause she didn't see the light and just couldn't afford to but she came."

After hearing more of her story, Williams said she asked Castillo for her Cash app username. Later that day, she sent the struggling waitress $500 through the app, according to WCGL.

Williams then turned to Facebook, where she posted about their encounter and asked her friends to provide Castillo and her daughter "with a little holiday cheer."

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Williams' followers were quick to respond — and within a week of posting her request, Castillo has now received over $10,000 in tips, according to NBC station WBAL.

"I was bathing my baby, and I started hearing my phone go off," Castillo recalled to WXIA. "I don't usually get Cash App, so I didn't recognize the ring tone, and it just got crazier and crazier and it didn't stop from there. It didn't stop and it hasn't stopped."

In a text exchange with Williams that was posted on Facebook, Castillo said she "nearly fainted" from all the donations that were pouring in.

"Me and my family, we needed this," she told WXIA. "It's been really tough. My mom is sick, so I have to keep working because her medication has to be paid [for], and me and my sisters take turns paying for it."

Since posting her Facebook plea, Williams and her friends have dubbed her kind gesture as the #RitaRoseChallenge. They're now calling on others to do similar acts of kindness for those in need this holiday season, according to WXIA.

Now, with a new friendship, and a renewed sense of faith in humanity, Castillo is moving forward — backed by the support of the thousands of strangers who were kind enough to extend some kindness her way.

"Y'all didn't have to do this for someone you don't know," Castillo told WXIA through tears. "I'm a stranger to everyone, and it means so much. Times are tough for everyone, and y'all didn't have to do this. And you did so anyway. Thank you so much."

Added Williams to WCGL: "I am beyond happy for Jazmine. I don't think it could've happened to a better person."

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