Generosity of Henniker waitress who paid soldiers' tab despite her own financial woes is rewarded
Henniker waitress Sarah Hoidahl, left, and the note she left for two National Guard soldiers picking up their tab in the government shutdown
Hoidahl, 22, is a single mom who lives with her mother and her 16-month-old son, Ashton, in a two-room house without a TV set. With no car, she has to bum rides to Ruby Tuesday in Concord, where she tends bar and works as a waitress.
She didn't tell her boss or even her mom what she did and didn't think any more of it.
Unbeknownst to Hoidahl, the two women told her boss what their waitress had done, and he told the New Hampshire National Guard. After the Guard posted an item about the incident on its Facebook page on Oct. 10, the media took notice, with stories appearing in newspapers all over the world.
In the five-minute spot, DeGeneres first told Hoidahl, "I'm going to pay you back," and pulled out $27.75 from a small change purse. Then the talk-show host surprised her with a 50-inch television set and a giant check for $10,000 as Hoidahl burst into happy tears.
Hoidahl's manager at Ruby Tuesday, Brian Hinckley, said the entire staff watched the show on Friday. "The whole restaurant stopped," he said. "They were all dancing and excited when they mentioned us."
Sarah's mom, Linda Hoidahl, is a nurse at New England College in Henniker. She watched the "Ellen" show on campus Friday since they didn't have a TV at home - until now, that is.
"I've always said no matter how bad things are for you, there's always somebody that has it worse, and you always need to remember that," she said.
"My mom always told me growing up, 'We may not have a lot of money but we're rich in love.'"
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