Pizza Delivery Man Surprised With Huge Tip From College Kids

James Gilpin received a nearly 10,000 percent tip, as well as encouraging notes.

BySTEFANIE TUDER via via logo
October 9, 2014, 3:52 PM
PHOTO: Domino's delivery driver James Gilpin received a $1,248.68 tip on a $12.50 order.
Domino's delivery driver James Gilpin received a $1,248.68 tip on a $12.50 order.
Courtesy Indiana Wesleyan University

— -- It was just like any other order for Indiana Domino’s delivery driver James Gilpin, until it wasn’t. Gilpin walked away from his mid-morning order for two pies totaling $12.50 with a $1,248.68 tip, nearly $100 in gift cards and thousands of encouraging notes.

It was all part of a lesson at the nearby Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion during the weekly mandatory chapel service. Keith Newman, CEO of Residential Education, wanted to pass along a lesson that stood out to him recently.

“When I do any kind of teaching, I try to use stories because that’s the way I learn. I think stories are great, but if you can show somebody a story, it’s even more powerful,” Newman told ABC News. “And if you can involve them in the story, it’s even more powerful. So we had the chance to act out a story.”

Newman heard a pastor teach the saying, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone,” and he wanted to pass that along to the university’s students.

“You can get overwhelmed that there are so many needs out there and things you’d like to do, but you can’t for everybody,” Newman said. “So his message was a simple one; that just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do something. So do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”

To illustrate his point, Newman ordered the two pizza pies on-stage during weekly chapel service, which is how Gilpin became involved.

PHOTO: Indiana Wesleyan University students presented a Domino's delivery driver with a 10,144% tip.
Indiana Wesleyan University students presented a Domino's delivery driver with a 10,144% tip.
Courtesy Indiana Wesleyan University

“They pulled me out on stage, and the gentleman started talking to me for a couple minutes and then he announced that he had $1,248.86 for me. Everybody was cheering,” Gilpin told ABC News. “At the time I didn’t know what to think; it didn’t sink in until about two hours afterwards.”

In the time it took Gilpin to deliver the pizza, Newman had asked the nearly 3,000 students, faculty and staff present to donate any money they wanted for a tip, as well as write a note of encouragement on the note card they had all received upon walking in.

“I said to the students, ‘There’s no pressure, and if you think I’m crazy, don’t put anything in. It’s no big deal,” Newman said. “The students just kind of went nuts and stood up cheering for James. Some kids didn’t have money, but put in gift cards from their wallets.”

All in all, in addition to the $1,248.86, Gilpin received nearly $100 in gift cards and thousands of notes of encouragement.

“I thought it was very nice for an average Joe like me to get something like that. They didn’t know me from me Adam, and they just picked me out random and handed me the money. It was really nice,” Gilpin said. “It’s nice to know that there’s a lot of encouragement from Indiana Wesleyan and their students to do something like that. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m very grateful for what they’ve done for me.”

Gilpin plans to use the money to fix his car, for home improvements and toward Christmas gifts for his 6-year-old and 5-year-old.

It was a lesson well taught for everyone involved.

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