Employees working the late night shift on Christmas Eve at an Ohio Waffle House got a huge surprise when a local church congregation walked in with a Christmas miracle.
About 75 congregation members huddled into Waffle House in Wapakoneta, Ohio, after their pastor, Mick Whistler, was inspired by a story, written by Jacob Armstrong, in Sent: Delivering the Gift of Hope at Christmas. It details how Armstrong's daughters were fascinated by Waffle House.
Pastor Whistler told ABC News, "His girls were amazed there was this whole world going on while they were sleep. Jacob paints this great picture of how Waffle House employees are kind of like the shepherds in the Nativity story. They were working while everyone else was asleep."
That story inspired Pastor Whistler to encourage his congregation to give one dollar a week during the month of December. By the end of the month, Grand Lake United Methodist Church in Celina, Ohio, raised $3,577.
The congregation then went to Waffle House at 1 a.m. to dine together then deliver the tip.
Waffle House employees confirmed to ABC News what happened, saying late-night employees were thrilled.
Carla Dietrich told Wapakoneta Daily News that when she saw the church members arrive on Christmas Eve, she "thought they were going to start singing."
Pastor Whistler said their holiday fundraiser proved how small donations can make big differences.
"That dollar a week didn’t really cost you anything, but together we can do incredible things," he said. "And that was just for a month in one church. We can solve all kinds of ills in the world without it being that hard."