250 people 'pay it forward' at a Lakeland McDonald's drive-thru
The chain lasted nearly six hours
10:05 PM, Dec 11, 2015
LAKELAND, Fla. - One Florida woman embraced the spirit of the season of giving, and started a chain reaction of 250 people paying it forward.
Torie Keene of Lakeland was paying for her meal at her local McDonald's drive-thru Wednesday morning when she told the cashier, Marisabel Figueroa, that she wanted to pay for meal of the car behind her.
Figueroa told ABC News that Keene specifically asked her to say "Merry Christmas," and not "Happy Holidays."
When Figueroa told the next car that their meal had been paid for by Keene, she said that the passenger was so moved that she also decided to pay for the meal of the car behind her, and after that a chain reaction of people paying it forward began.
"It kept going and going" Figueroa said. "After the 15th car I started tally marking the number of people that were participating on a piece of paper," she continued.
Figueroa worked from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, and said that the pass-it-on chain lasted almost the entire length of her shift.
"I just kept giving everyone the same message, and they were all so stunned and so happy," Figueroa said. "One lady even paid for the meals of the next three cars behind her."
The customers weren't the only ones stunned by each other's generosity. Figueroa said that in her 12 years working for McDonald's, she'd "never experienced something like that before."
"I feel very blessed to have been a part of all that," she said.
Figueroa explained that after a local news station reported about the pay-it-forward chain, Keene reached out to Figueroa via Facebook, and revealed that she was the "mystery customer" that inadvertently started the chain reaction of goodwill.
Keene told Figueroa that she didn’t expect for the chain to continue like it did, and that she was "only trying to brighten someone’s day."