'Pay it forward together:' Community tips North Country servers

SCREENSHOTA screenshot from a video filmed at Hot Biscuit Diner shows Tipping North Country co-founder Emily Morrissey (right) putting a sizeable tip in the hand of Jenna, a server at Hot Biscuit Diner in Ticonderoga. Morrissey and partner Mikey Gines launched the Tipping North Country Facebook group in September, collecting community donations to deliver tips to area servers regionwide.

WILMINGTON — Tipping North Country, a Facebook group of more than 1,500 members, is using community donations to spread love and positivity to restaurant servers regionwide. 

Page creators Mikey Gines and Emily Morrissey, of Wilmington, accept donations weekly from Saturday to Friday before surprising a local waiter or waitress with the sizeable, community-funded tip. 

Donations range from less than $1 all the way up to $100, Gines said

"There's no donation too small," he told the Press-Republican. "There's a lot of people out there that really, really want to pay it forward, but might not have a lot; we can take those small donations and they all add up.

"As a community, we can pay it forward together."

MONTHS OF TIPPING

Gines and Morrissey launched the page in September, modeling it after a trend on video-sharing app TikTok. 

"It inspired us to start something in our area," Gines said, admitting that the pair had thought they'd only get a few donations from family and friends. 

"But then it took right off," he said. "It blew our minds."

Tipping North Country's initial 80 members raised $250 for the page's first donation, which was delivered to a server at Living Good's Restaurant and Brewery in Peru.

Since, the page has reached 1,700 members and is now accepting donations for its 15th tip. 

They have gifted employees at places like Hometown Deli and Bakery in Au Sable Forks, the Arsenal in Elizabethtown, the Country Corner Diner in West Chazy and the Lumberjack Inn in Tupper Lake.

HOT BISCUIT DINER

The latest tip went to a server at Hot Biscuit Diner on Montcalm Street in Ticonderoga. 

When Gines and Morrissey pulled into its parking lot, there were only a couple cars. 

"We were the only customers there," Gines said. "Those cars were employee cars. The place was deserted."

He said there was one server, Jenna, and when she was gifted a $422 tip, she said, "You guys are going to make me cry," and asked to hug Morrissey. 

The exchange was caught on video, like all of the donations, and shared to the Tipping North Country Facebook page. 

When Morrissey tells Jenna, "We really hope that this helps," the server responds, "It really does. You guys have no idea." 

CLOSE TO HOME

Gines, a server of more than 10 years, said he understood the struggles of being a tip-reliant worker.

"We know that they're probably hurting the most out of everyone," he said. 

A couple of weeks ago, Gines was visited by a Tipping North Country member at Big Slide Brewery in Lake Placid, where he works. 

He said they secretly raised money for his family and surprised him with a tip of his own. 

"The tables were turned on me," he said. "I got to see what it was like to be on the other end." 

'AS LONG AS WE CAN'

Donations are accepted through mobile payment services, like Venmo, PayPal and Facebook Pay, and sometimes cash. 

"We have people that will recognize us in public now and they'll hand us a cash donation," Gines said.

As of right now, the page doesn't have an end date. 

"We've kept the group going and we're going to keep it going for as long as we can," Gines said. "It's amazing; it's amazing to see the people in our community come together.

"It could be the difference between someone getting their kids school supplies or paying rent." 

Email McKenzie Delisle: 

mdelisle@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle

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