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Woman uses popularity to gift thousands of dollars

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By Alice Keefe

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    BATH, Maine (WMTW) — A Bath woman and her 400,000-plus followers on TikTok gave a ‘life-changing’ gift to a local waiter and dozens of Maine kids.

Meredith Steele, known on TikTok as @babiesofsteele, has done a number of Venmo challenges with her followers over the past several months, inviting them to send her money via the Venmo app, which she and her husband then give away to strangers.

This past Christmas, she gifted wait staff up and down the coast with thousands of dollars.

“I’ve always done them really randomly and gone to, like, complete strangers and given them money,” Steele said.

A week-and-a-half ago, she asked her followers to step up to a new challenge.

“My best friend just shared with me today that a coworker of hers who is openly gay was twice today tipped zero dollars and his zero dollar tip was accompanied with a church pamphlet,” Steele said in a video she posted earlier this month.

She invited followers to fill up her Venmo account so that together, they could give him a gift to try and make up for the lost money and hurt.

“In less than 24 hours, I raised so much more money than I ever could have humanly imagined,” Steele said.

To protect the waiter’s privacy, she wouldn’t reveal how much money they were able to gift him, but she said it was a ‘life-changing’ amount; so much money, that she and the waiter decided to put a cap on the gifting, and donate the remaining money, upwards of $10,000, to Equality Maine.

“When I gave the server his gift I said to him I’d really like to use a portion of this to donate to Equality Maine and they have a camp for teens and the server was like that’s awesome. That’s definitely something I support,” Steele said.

The donation will help send 40 LGBTQ+ and allied teens to a weeklong overnight leadership camp, called New Leaders Project.

“To be able to do that much for a stranger and then 40 kids, uh, it was, it’s still, I feel like I still haven’t fully wrapped my mind around how cool it is,” Steele said.

Proof that a little kindness can go a long way.

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