Single mother in Michigan gets $2,020 tip on $23 bill ahead of new year

Posted at 7:23 AM, Jan 01, 2020

A single mom with three children and one on the way, Danielle Franzoni recently moved to start a new life. But last week, she received an unexpected gift that changed her entire outlook.

"I'm going to build a future because of this. My kids have a future, and I have a home," Danielle Franzoni said. "It's a big deal. It's a really big deal."

Franzoni, who recently moved to Alpena, Michigan, says her life changed this week when she received a big tip while waiting tables at Thunder Bay River Restaurant.

The tab? $23. The tip? $2020.

"They wrote on the receipt, 'Happy New Year Danielle, 2020 challenge.' I cried. I started crying and went right to my manager and asked if this was real," Franzoni said. "I'm still in complete shock. That doesn't happen to people like me. I'm a recovering addict, and I'm a Detroit native, born and raised. I moved up here to Alpena to start over and get sober."

Franzoni, a recovering opioid addict, moved four hours away from her home of Detroit last year. When she moved to Alpena, she had nothing but the clothes on her back, so she ended up in a homeless shelter before landing a job at the restaurant.

Now two years sober, Franzoni says the two regulars who left the tip are likely unaware of the full gravity of their gift — a second chance.

"It's a blessing. I'm trying to bring my kids home. I'm trying to do right and I'm a server. I don't make great money, and I moved into my own house today," Franzoni said. "They gave my kids a life that they don't even know that they didn't have. And I have a chance."

Franzoni is also going to be able to get her driver's license now for the first time in 10 years. That will allow her to see all of her kids and teach her daughter to drive next year.

She says she never got the chance to thank the two responsible and hopes they know that they've helped change her life's trajectory heading into the new year.

This story was originally published by Brian Abel on WXYZ in Detroit.