MEDIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- After spending 10 years working in the restaurant industry, Brittany Scharr of Media, Pennsylvania had a career path change to become a certified life coach. Still, she was hearing stories of the struggles of her former coworkers throughout the pandemic.
"I was so heartbroken because the friend that I just ate lunch with, she's telling me, 'Since we are such limited indoor capacity, I worked three shifts last week, I made 80 bucks,'" recalled Scharr. "No one's really coming out. The sections are smaller. They moved managers down to servers because they don't have enough manager shifts."
After the second restaurant shutdown, Scharr knew she had to do something, and it all started with a Facebook post.
"If any of my restaurant friends need anything, a case of water, essentials, food, message me, no judgment. I'm here to help whatever you need," she said.
She then began a GoFundMe account. The donations poured in and Scharr began hand-delivering cash donations as a surprise to restaurant workers all over town.
"So it was originally called the '12 Days of Christmas Restaurant Support Fund' because I was gonna do it for 12 days, and it got so big," she said. "They started calling me 'Media's hometown Santa.'"
In a little over a month, she's raised over $22,000, so she decided to keep it going well beyond Christmas time.
"It can't just be a holiday season or for 12 days that we show other people kindness and that we care about them, it really should be a 365 (a day) thing," she said. "My ideal goal is to raise awareness for the restaurant industry and of course small businesses, but there's people that work within those small businesses that deserve to feel like they're valued just as much as anybody else does."
"They lost a lot last year. Last year was tough and I want them to start off 2021 feeling like people have their backs and that they matter," she said.
Media, Pa. woman launches crowdfunding effort to help friends, businesses during pandemic