Pass Kindness Along
Waiting on tables is often a thankless job — and the paycheck doesn’t typically make up for that. In fact, the average salary for servers in America is right around the federal poverty level for a family of three. Yet, this reality didn’t stop Liz Woodward — a waitress in New Jersey — from covering two firefighters’ meals as an act of kindness to show thanks. What happened next? A small miracle.
We’re frequently told that it’s better to give than to receive, but rarely does this lesson include promises of rewards. In the case of Liz Woodward and many others, though, good deeds don’t go unnoticed. Perhaps it’s God, fate, karma, or the universe that smiles down on those who give, but whatever you believe this force to be, Liz’s story shows that it can change lives.
A Simple Act of Kindness
Firefighters consistently rank as one of the world’s most respected professions. So back in 2015, when two of them stepped into the Route 130 Diner after finishing an overnight shift, their waitress decided to show her appreciation for everything they do. Rather than getting a bill before leaving, the firefighters instead received a note from Liz.
The note thanked them for their service, and it even featured cute drawings of firefighter helmets and axes. Even though she works in a profession with one of the lowest average salaries in America, Liz did what she thought was right by paying for the firefighters’ meals. One of the firemen, Tim Young, shared his experience on social media.
Liz’s act of kindness did not go unnoticed. Young told his friends to visit the diner and leave the waitress a “big tip” while there. This act would typically be a great way to pay back the kind deed the firefighters experienced. Fortunately, that’s not where it ended. When Young discovered Liz had a GoFundMe page, the potential reward for generosity quickly became apparent.
Liz Woodward and Her Father’s Accessible Van
When Tim Young and his fellow firefighter ate at the Route 130 Diner, they had no idea what Liz Woodward was going through. Her father was confined to a wheelchair. He was entirely dependent on a caregiver, and the things most of us take for granted were often impossible for him. Adding to these difficulties, the family didn’t have a wheelchair-accessible van for transportation.
When Tim discovered the situation while looking online, though, he put a call out to those willing to help. A GoFundMe page Liz started had a lofty goal of raising $15,000 to get the right van for her father. Tim shared the page along with the message, “Turns out, the young lady who gave us a free meal is really the one that could use the help…” This message is when everything changed.
The $15,000 goal? Donations quickly surpassed it. By the time the fundraiser closed, more than 1,800 people from around the world had donated a total of $86,500. This reward for a simple act of kindness was more than enough to pay for a wheelchair-accessible van. In fact, it was enough to change everything for this family.
An Example of Giving Changing the World
The global attention garnered from Liz Woodward’s good deed gave many people hope. While inspirational Bible verses can make us feel good about the world, seeing strangers care for each other in real life is something different. Woodward’s act of kindness — and the outpouring of love that came after — certainly had an effect across the world.
More importantly, though, is the effect it had on Liz’s family. Looking at just one update on the GoFundMe page is enough to show how deeply it touched her life:
“Last Christmas we lost our home. Our ‘Christmas tree’ was a construction paper drawing… taped to a bare kitchen wall. This year, not only is our house decorated, but because of all of you, my family has been given the ultimate gift of hope — of a second chance, a better life, a dream come true.”
Liz could have let her night end like many others had before. She could’ve waited on the firefighters, handed them their bill, and hoped for a decent tip. Instead, she chose to give back. In doing so, she brought blessings into her own life. Of course, there’s no guarantee that giving will lead to an $86,500 check, but Liz put it simply in one of her most recent updates:
“Good people are everywhere. If you can’t find one, be one.”
How DonorWerx Can Help
The Bible instructs us to give willingly — not just because we expect something in return. In many cases, though, rewards come to those who are generous. Liz Woodward had no way of knowing her simple yet meaningful gesture would bring so much her way. Whether you believe it’s God, fate, karma, or some other force, you can be sure a higher power stepped in that day.
Church members sometimes need to be reminded that giving begets rewards. DonorWerx can help you with this process. Our giving tools allow donations in many forms — including cryptocurrency — and our engagement framework teaches everything you need to know about messaging.Click here to get started and witness how easy it is to increase giving in the church.
Email teaser: Most of us are taught early on that we should be generous in our giving. We can look at major donations from millionaires, but we can also look closer to home. We recently discovered the story of a waitress from New Jersey who could only offer a free meal to two firefighters. This act was enough to make a difference in their lives, and within a short time, it made a difference in the waitress’s life as well. We wanted to share her story with you.