Nov. 8, 2013 at 3:25 PM ET
Leave it to Ellen DeGeneres to end the week on an uplifting note. On her Friday show, DeGeneres presents a free car to a waitress she'd earlier rewarded for picking up the check for two furloughed soldiers, leaving the grateful woman weeping, and thrilling the studio audience.
It all started back in October when Sarah Hoidahl, a 21-year-old single mom and waitress at a New Hampshire Ruby Tuesday's, waited on two uniformed National Guard officers who were discussing the fact that they'd been furloughed.
When the meal was over, Hoidahl presented them with a note saying she'd taken care of the check.
Word of her good deed spread quickly, with Ruby Tuesday and the New Hampshire National Guard tweeting about the story. And when DeGeneres asked Hoidahl to appear on her show a week after the event, she joked as if she was just going to pay her back for the $27.75 meal, even counting out money into her hand. But when the host went to dig for the 75 cents, she instead presented Hoidahl with an enormous check for $10,000.
That wasn't enough, though. On Friday's show, DeGeneres had a show producer pretend to be a reporter and travel to the restaurant to interview Hoidahl about her good deed. Then she was handed a phone with DeGeneres on the other end, and the host brought the topic around to the fact that Hoidahl and her mother share an old car.
"It's got four wheels and gets us from Point A to Point B," Hoidahl said, telling DeGeneres that her mother and her friends help her take her young son to daycare and help drive her to work.
Then another show employee came up to Hoidahl as the two were talking and presented her with the keys to a shiny red 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport parked outside the restaurant. As Hoidahl sat in the driver's seat, she cried.