A waitress who "couldn't stop shaking" after receiving a gobsmacking $2600 tip recently has stunned the world by pledging to donate some of it to the Aussie bushfire relief.

Kathleen Moreno, from Sacramento in the US, is a culinary student at American River College who works two jobs to scrape by and cover her school fees.

One of those jobs is at the Wildwood Kitchen and Bar, where she waits tables.

Last week, she turned up to a shift at the venue and ended walking away with thousands after a generous customer left her $US1800 (NZ$2720), news.com.au reported.


Moreno told news network KCRA she initially misread the tip – which was accompanied by the message "Happy New Year!" – and believed the diner had left only $54 on a $250 bill.

Kathleen Moreno, a waitress at Wildwood Kitchen and Bar, received a $2700 tip. Photo / KCRA News
Kathleen Moreno, a waitress at Wildwood Kitchen and Bar, received a $2700 tip. Photo / KCRA News

That sum would still have been a substantial gift to the student and would have brought the total amount to $300.

But she said she was blown away once she realised the amount was far higher.

"When she wrote the tip, I thought she just wrote that the total was $200. And then I looked closer – and there was an extra zero," the young woman told KCRA.

"I couldn't stop shaking for about 30 minutes to an hour.

"She paid it forward to me, she didn't have to do that. I'm a firm believer in karma. What you put into the world is what you get back."

But while most students would jump at the chance to pocket such a windfall, Ms Moreno has declared she will donate some of the money to victims of the devastating Australian bushfires.

She said she would use some of it to pay for car repairs, while some will be donated to the cause.


Our bushfire disaster has dominated global headlines for weeks now, with scores of high-profile celebrities vowing to donate millions.

Yesterday it emerged Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would donate $1 million, while other big-name donors include Elton John, Chris Hemsworth, P!nk, Metallica and many more also joining the cause.

Meanwhile, Australian comedian Celeste Barber has raised an eye-watering $51 million so far via her Facebook fire fundraiser, a sum that has smashed the platform's previous donation record.