OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) — Have you heard of the 2020 Tip Challenge?
The idea started when a server in Michigan received a $2,020 tip. Then, Donnie Wahlberg surprised a server at the St. Charles IHOP with the same amount – and asked others to pay it forward.READ MORE: City Celebrating Chicago Sky WNBA Championship Win In Millennium Park Tuesday
Now, it is catching on across the country and back here at home – this time at an Oak Lawn Original Pancake House.
CBS 2 talked to the server and her coworkers, who said it couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person.
Single mom Shannon Vargas was finishing up her shift as a server at the Oak Lawn Original Pancake House when we caught up with her.
Earlier this week, imagine her surprise when a customer left her a $2,020 tip on a bill of $36.73.
“I opened it up and I heard them whispering, and I put my head around the corner and I said, ‘Is this a joke?’ And she said, ‘No, it’s not a joke.’ She’s like, ‘This is for you,’” Vargas said. “And I was in shock. I just started crying.”
She said her heart was pounding with disbelief.
“It says, ‘Because everyone needs help sometimes,” Vargas said.
For Vargas, it was a huge blessing. She had fallen on hard times – after dropping everything to move to Alabama to take care of her dad, who has since passed away.READ MORE: Woodstock Woman's Car Gets Damaged, Then Insurance Company Refuses To Pay Because She Called Police 2 Hours Too Late
Vargas is now living in a hotel with her two children – an 18-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter. She has no cellphone and takes the bus to work.
“I go day by day, and with this, I can actually breathe, maybe, for a little bit,” Vargas said.
She said her coworkers are also like family, and couldn’t be happier for her.
“When we found out it was Shannon, the whole staff went crazy, you know. They were calling and texting,” said Michelle Strong. “She’s very sweet and humble.”
And they had one more surprise for Vargas.
“The staff and I have set up a GoFundMe page for you,” Strong told Vargas. “It’s like a public page where people can donate to you to help you out. Thank you so much. You deserve it so much.”
Where does Vargas want to be in six months?
“I want to have my own place, a vehicle, and just keep moving forward,” she said. “I already have a good job.”MORE NEWS: Woman Struck By Stray Bullet, Critically Wounded While Inside Her Home In Zion
The woman who gave Vargas the tip wanted to remain anonymous.