Santa Claus came early to Caroll's Kitchen in Odebolt and owner Caroll Kies is a little stunned by the gift he left her.
Caroll has operated her business for 11 years; she's feeling the economic pinch that other small area businesses feel. On the frigid day of Dec. 19, she had served the breakfast and lunch crowds and locked the doors at the usual 1:30, staying to prepare for the next day's meals as usual, when a gentleman stopped by looking for something to eat.
She never turns a hungry person away, and let him in.
Fryers and grills had been shut down for hours but she found cold chicken from the refrigerator and a piece of homemade pie for him.
In the 20 minutes he was there the two talked about the economy and the weather and she learned he had come from Storm Lake to portray Santa at a Christmas party.
Caroll charged him $3.80 for his meal which he paid with a $5 bill. He graciously told her to keep the change. Walking out the door he said, "Have a Merry Christmas, Caroll."
AS she was clearing away his dishes, Caroll noticed another bill folded neatly under the plate. When she unfolded it she noticed it was a $100 bill.
She quickly went to the door, thinking that the man had thought he was leaving a single dollar, but he was no where to be seen.
"I certainly didn't expect anything like that and I didn't think it was right," said Caroll. "I don't know what I said but I don't think I deserved it. I was more than a little dismayed. I appreciated it but I feel there is someone more deserving than me that the money could have gone to. I'm not used to taking from people, I'm used to giving," said Caroll.
Caroll annually makes contributions to Gospel Mission of Sioux City and to Paralyzed Veterans of America but due to the economy she reluctantly decided she just couldn't swing it this year. She used a portion of the $100 to make those donations and used the remaining dollars to pay bills incurred at her business.
"It makes me feel better (about receiving the large tip) to give some of it away," said Caroll. I am glad to give to people. (That money left) was a bonus, it should be shared."
She said she has never received a gift like that before and probably never will again.
She wishes she had the chance to tell the Santa thank you.