This Waitress' Simple Act of Generosity Garnered Acclaim – And a New SUV From Ellen

Sarah Hoidahl, who works at Ruby Tuesday, is excited to have a new Hyundai Santa Fe.

Sarah Hoidahl takes delivery of her Hyundai Santa Fe that Ellen Degeneres bought for her on Feb. 6, 2014, at the Grappone dealership in Bow. Credit: Tony Schinella
Sarah Hoidahl takes delivery of her Hyundai Santa Fe that Ellen Degeneres bought for her on Feb. 6, 2014, at the Grappone dealership in Bow. Credit: Tony Schinella

By Tony Schinella/Patch

One never knows what will happen when performing a random act of kindness to others and one local waitress is continuing to find that out.

Sarah Hoidahl, a single mother from Henniker, New Hampshire made national headlines after buying lunch for two National Guardswomen during the government shutdown last year. On Feb. 6, Hoidahl took delivery of a new 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV that was purchased for her by comedian Ellen Degeneres.

The SUV was parked outside the Grappone Hyundai dealership as Hoidahl drove up with her mom to take delivery.

“Oh my goodness,” she exclaimed. “Look at the bow!”

It’s been a whirlwind for Hoidahl, who described the experience to be "like a dream.”

Back in October 2013, Hoidahl picked up the tab for two female soldiers with the New Hampshire National Guard when they came in to the Rudy Tuesday restaurant on Loudon Road in Concord to have lunch. Hoidahl wrote a note thanking them for their service. The guard later posted a picture of the note on its Facebook page, thanking the waitress for the lunch. 

Little did anyone know but Hoidahl only made $27 that day, the bulk of which was used to buy lunch for the women, meaning she went home, pretty much, empty-handed.

After the story made national news, comedian Ellen Degeneres flew Hoidahl out to California to thank her for being such “a good person” and proceeded to write her a check for $10,000.

“I always watch ‘Ellen’ and see people like that go on the show and get stuff,” she said, “but I never thought in a million years that I would be that person sitting on that couch … that was amazing.”

A month later, Degeneres surprised the waitress again. 

After hearing that Hoidahl and her mother were sharing a beat up car, trying to coordinate their schedules, as well as taking care of her baby, Degeneres sent a staffer to Concord, acting as a reporter, and surprised her with a new SUV.

Once again, Hoidahl was stunned, and couldn’t believe what was happening. A few months later, it all came true, with Hoidahl taking delivery of the Hyundai.

“It’s been a long wait for this car,” she said. “But I really can’t complain … it’s going to be nice … I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s going to be so wonderful.”

While waiting for her SUV to be prepped and paperwork to be processed, Amanda Grappone Osmer, one of the owners of the dealership, played banjo in the lobby and chatted with Hoidahl about her interaction with Degeneres. 

Hoidahl still works at Ruby Tuesday but only waits on tables about once a week. Most of the time, she is bartending, something she really enjoys.

“I like being more stationary,” Hoidahl said. “I get to make drinks, which is wicked fun … the clientele at the bar is very different … I like to talk, so I like the clientele at the bar. It’s easier to connect with people.”

After getting a walkthrough of the vehicle, Hoidahl gave a shout out to Degeneres.

"Thank you, Ellen," she said, laughing, still not believing it was all happening.

chris February 10, 2014 at 12:57 AM
This has nothing to do with my hometown.
Lisa Lienhart February 22, 2014 at 06:53 AM
I would like to thank Tony for posting this story. I am reading this on my hometown Patch and it is nice to see something good in my hometown.


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