By Jessica Albert

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — The Christmas spirit is alive and well at a restaurant in Howard County.

Two servers picking up checks at a Silver Diner in Columbia found unusually generous tips from charitable customers this holiday season.

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Tori Locher got $4,000 in cash after serving one of her regular customers. She said he came in to eat, left, and then returned with a huge gift.

“He was just like, this is a gift to you. It’s not a tip. It’s my gift to you,” Locher said. “I kind of froze up because I didn’t know what to say. I stood there and was like, ‘Are you sure?”

Roxana Salinas, another server at the diner, got a $910 tip earlier this week. She said a large group gave her the money after coming in for coffee.

“I started crying,” Salinas said. “I got so emotional and they hugged me and they say you make us cry.”

Hospitality Manager Melissa Green said these gifts come at a really key time for servers, who continue to struggle through the pandemic to make ends meet.

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“For the community to step up and take care of our people that have been working throughout this entire time, it’s such a great thing to see,” Green said.

Salinas plans to send the money to her family in El Salvador.

“I said mom this is for you, so you can cook,” Salinas said. “You can have money for Christmas and my dad, you know, my niece, my nephew. She was so happy for me.”

Locher plans to use the money to help her pay for school.

“I’m hoping to go back to school, because I was teaching special needs. I want to go back to school to expand my horizons. May start a business and everything,” Locher said. “There’s a lot going on in the world with the pandemic going on and I just hope that everybody helps each other financially but also like emotionally and everything through it.”

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The staff said the generosity doesn’t stop there. They said they’ve had other customers come in and pay for other customers’ meals in the last few weeks, too.

Jessica Albert