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Gardiner servers surprised with $1,000 tip for each

A Mainer is getting Venmo donations from random people all over the U.S., and she leaves big tips for restaurant servers to help make this season jollier.

GARDINER, Maine — Christmas just got a lot merrier for two ladies who serve at A1 Diner in Gardiner.

Meredith Steele of Bath has been using her TikTok account to raise money and brighten the holiday season for a couple of lucky restaurant servers at the diner.

Steele told NEWS CENTER Maine she always tries to go to rural mom-and-pop restaurants or diners to give out surprise tips.

"People would send 10 cents, and then last Christmas, I had two separate donors send $1,000," Steele said.

The tips come from people who live from all over the country who donated to the effort through her Venmo account.

The servers at A1 Diner each got a $1,000 tip.

The gesture was a huge surprise to them, and the manager at the restaurant said everyone at the diner appreciated it.

"Our servers work so hard, and a gesture like this means more than money, really," the restaurant owner said. "It was a huge surprise and a beautiful display of generosity and kindness that reflects the best qualities of our community."

For the TikTocker, seeing the happiness and positive reactions from the servers makes her fundraising efforts worthwhile.

"Last Christmas, my husband kept asking, 'How many are we going to do?' And we will just keep doing them as long as people keep sending money in Venmo. We will keep doing them. I think for me, the selfish side of me that really loves it is that my kids get to experience that sort of giving cause I think they get more excited than I do sometimes. They'll be sitting there and telling me, 'when are you going to do it? Let's go,'" Steele said.

Steele added she will do another surprise tip this weekend at another rural mom-and-pop restaurant in Maine.

Here is Steele's TikTok account.

More NEWS CENTER Maine stories.