PHOENIX -- A Valley waitress got the surprise of her life when a customer gave her a $1,000 tip.
The money couldn't have come at a better time for hard-working mom Danielle Thomas. A few years ago, her son was diagnosed with a serious illness and she suffered a nervous breakdown in 2012.
Thomas was forced to start waiting tables because the hours were flexible. But the pay was barely enough to put food on the table.
Thomas is also on food stamps. And when she went to renew her benefits, to her surprise, the government flagged her case, claiming they had accidentally overpaid her and that she owed $800.
The government demanded that she pay back the money. Thomas wasn't just shocked, she was furious because she says she was always honest with reporting her income..
Government mistake or not, Thomas needed to pay back the money, but she didn't have the $800.
So as she was waiting tables one night, she happened to strike up a conversation with some customers at her table.
"We started talking about taxes and money," she said.
And suddenly her bad luck became good fortune with that customer looking to pay it forward.
"After telling my story he literally said, 'Here you go,'" she said. "He said, 'You know what I'm going to do? I'm giving you $1,000.' And I'm like, 'No, no, you're not.' And he's like, 'Yes I am.'"