Waitress pays struggling soldier’s tab, but when Ellen stands up to praise her, she’s stunned.

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Waitress pays struggling soldier’s tab, but when Ellen stands up to praise her, she’s stunned.

It was just like any other shift for 22-year-old waitress Sarah Hoidahl, who worked at Ruby Tuesday in Concord, New Hampshire.

Then two military servicewomen took their seats. Sarah heard the two National Guard members talking about how they had to keep their lunch small that afternoon — it was October 2013, when the federal government entered a shutdown. The two servicewomen’s paychecks had been withheld as a result, and they were struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Sarah herself was a new mom at the time and decided to cover their $27.75 tab. Instead of the bill, Sarah wrote them a note of appreciation. Sure, Sarah gave up her own pay that day to cover their meal — and went without filling up the gas in her car — but she felt good about her act of kindness.

Sarah thought that was the end of it, but the two servicewomen posted about Sarah online, and word got around to Ellen DeGeneres, who invited Sarah onto the show. Ellen was going to pay Sarah back for the meal. But being Ellen, she was also going to do a whole lot more. Watch Ellen give Sarah a richly deserved gift — and see Sarah’s own priceless reaction below…

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