Denny's staff donates time, tips to surprise needy families

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(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The wait staff, managers and cooks at a Scottsdale Denny's canceled their own Christmas party, and instead threw a party for four struggling families.

"We normally do a white elephant for $20 each, but we don't need a gift from each other," manager Elizabeth Cervantes said. "We decided to get presents for other people."

They agreed to help one family, but the number quickly grew to four.

Cervantes found the families on Facebook.

One is struggling financially, two are victims of crimes, and the fourth is dealing with medical issues.

Together with some of the restaurant's regular customers and others, the Denny's staff arranged an early Christmas for the families Wednesday night at the restaurant near 7000 E. Mayo Blvd.

Each family was treated to dinner, a Christmas tree, presents and more. Each child received a new bike.

One mother wiped tears away, telling the Denny's staff that her family was unable to celebrate Thanksgiving. She said without their generosity, they would not have been able to have a Christmas either.

"It touches my heart to know we helped these people," Cervantes said.

Single mother Tisha Morgan, of New River, came with her kids, including her 1-year-old, James. He uses a feeding tube and requires care 24 hours a day.

"I'm so thankful and grateful for this. I don't know what we would've done without their help," she said.

The Denny's staff members looked on, proud of their contributions.

"It's so neat to see something we just thought about doing two weeks ago become so beautiful," said Shere Baker, an overnight waitress.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Jared DillinghamJared anchors the weekend newscasts at 5, 6, 9 and 10pm on both 3TV and CBS5. He also reports during the week for both stations.

Click to learn more about Jared.

Jared Dillingham

Over his decade in Phoenix, Jared has worked all shifts at 3TV, including a yearlong stint anchoring the weekend morning show.

Since 2007, Jared has covered everything from Senator John McCain's campaign for president, to the Jodi Arias trial, to the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Jared grew up in New York, and graduated from Syracuse University with degrees in broadcast journalism and political science.

After internships at News12 Long Island and NBC in Washington, DC, Jared moved to beautiful "Big Sky Country." He spent a year at KRTV in Great Falls, Montana, before moving to KREM in Spokane, Washington.

The Valley has truly become "home" for Jared. He lives in Phoenix, and spends his mornings listening to as many news/political podcasts as possible, while walking his (now elderly) rescue dogs, Gabby and Bree.

On his days off, Jared can be found at any of the local restaurants which have popped up in the city since he first moved here, or hiking Piestewa Peak or Camelback Mountain.

He also travels as much as possible and runs a blog with advice on visiting cities around the world.

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