Pay it forward: 900 pay each other’s tab at Dairy Queen drive-thru in Minnesota

BRAINERD, Minn. — Call it a blizzard of giving.

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Over a span of two-and-a-half days, more than 900 people paid the bill of the vehicle behind them at a Dairy Queen in central Minnesota, KARE-TV reported.

Tina Jensen, the general manager at one of the two Dairy Queen franchises in Brainerd, said one man paid for the person behind him on Thursday. After that, the charitable acts, well, snowballed.

When the next customer came to the fast-food chain’s window, Jensen told the customer what the man had done, and the charity continued.

Wow.. It's hard for us to come up with the right words to say. THIS is what we stand for, THIS is Dairy Queen. "To...

Posted by Dairy Queen Grill & Chill on Wednesday, December 9, 2020

“So the lady pulled up and I said, ‘Just to let you know, the gentleman in front of you paid for your order. If you like I can pay it forward and you can pay for the order behind you and we can keep this going,’” Jensen told KARE. “She’s like ‘Really, why would he do that?’ I said, ‘We just have it every once in a while where someone will take care of the person behind them and today is your lucky day.’”

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Jensen told CNN she thought the chain would go on for about 15 or 20 cars. However, when the last customer ordered in the drive-thru on Thursday night, more than 275 people had kept the chain unbroken, KARE reported. The final customer of the night left $10 to start the chain again on Friday, and the same thing happened on Saturday, the television station reported.

“Our fans were so excited. They didn’t want to break the chain,” Jensen told KARE. “They wanted to keep that chain going.”

UPDATE 8:44pm: We are still going strong!!!! OVER 275 cars have paid it forward!!! If we can keep it going like this for...

Posted by Dairy Queen Grill & Chill on Thursday, December 3, 2020

“One lady, she was so excited, she threw us a $20 bill almost in tears,” Jensen told the television station. “(She said) ‘Are you serious. This is really going on?’ I said, ‘Yep you are about 125 cars into it.’ She said, ‘For real, can you believe this?’”

Heidi Bruse told CNN she experienced the act of kindness on Friday evening.

“During times like these it kinda restores your faith in humanity a little,” Bruse told the network. “The way the world is now you see a lot of anger, tension, and selfish behavior. What we witnessed was pure kindness and it was a breath of fresh air really.”

By the time the chain was broken, more than 900 people had paid more than $10,000 forward, KARE reported.

“There’s all different types of ways to help people,” Jensen told CNN. “I think this touched a lot of people that we didn’t even know it touched, deeper than we know. And you don’t know what’s going on in a person’s life.”

Customers felt the same way.

“Not that we got free ice cream,” Bruse told CNN. “The gesture was way more valuable.”