By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)– After 13 years as a waitress at the Ranch House Café in Denver, Bobbi Forrester expected to face a normal Thursday of serving omelettes, pancakes and sausage links. But the group of 30 strangers who sat in her section did something truly shocking- each customer left a $100 tip for the mother of five, as part of an annual event known as the “Shock and Claus” breakfast.

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When the strangers left, Bobbi found herself with a $2,000 tip, just in time for the holidays.

“I’m speechless. A giant group of angels just came in this morning,” said Forrester, who said she would use the money to pay bills and buy Christmas and birthday gifts for her kids.

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It was a scene repeated at a half dozen metro area breakfast restaurants Thursday morning. Groups of up to 30 strangers each leaving a $100 tip for minimum wage workers, creating a financial windfall of thousands of dollars for unsuspecting servers.

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“You guys made my day,” said Tiffany Beals, a waitress at the Littleton Café.

She ended up with $2,500 thanks to the two dozen men and women who just wanted to “pay it forward.”

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One of Beals’ co-workers, Dave Allen, said Beals was planning to cash in her coin jar to buy Christmas gifts for her 11-year-old son. Now she won’t have to.

“It’s nice to know there’s good people left,” said Allen. ”You just made her Christmas.”

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The annual event began years ago with Denver businessman Taylor Kirkpatrick. It evolved into the Shock and Claus breakfast, fueled by social media and a willingness to make a difference in the lives of others.

“And you get to have a positive experience and make someone’s day. That’s about the best you can do for anyone,” said Kirkpatrick.

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He said one year his group of about 30 businessmen left about $3,000 for a waitress who burst into tears.

Kirkpatrick said she told him, ”I was praying for a Christmas miracle. I wasn’t sure how to pay for tires on the car and kids presents and all the rest of the bills and this has gotten me out of that hole.”

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Last year, Kirkpatrick told CBS4 the Shock and Claus idea was executed at 28 locations around Colorado and around the country.

“To try and give somebody a little bit of a boost, if they need a bit of a boost, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Taylor Kirkpatrick

Taylor Kirkpatrick (credit: CBS)

On Thursday, he said nine unsuspecting servers at a half dozen restaurants shared nearly $19,000.

“This is one of the great ways to start the holiday season”, said Kirkpatrick. “It doesn’t feel like the holidays until we’ve had a chance to give back.”

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He emphasized the beauty of Shock and Claus is its simplicity and the ease of replicating it. He said anyone can organize their own Shock and Claus event for any meal, anywhere.

“We hope that everybody goes out and does this. It doesn’t have to be during the holidays. It’s a wonderful way to share the love.”

Brian Maass


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