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McDonald's worker gets holiday surprise from anonymous customer

An employee at a McDonald's in Caddo Valley is feeling the holiday cheer after she was given the surprise of a lifetime by one of her long-time customers.

CADDO VALLEY, Ark. — There are some things that are just synonymous with the drive-thru— such as the voice at the ordering screen, and even the smells as you get close.

Though at the Caddo Valley McDonald's, there's no sound as recognizable as the voice of long-time employee,  Aretha Nelson.

"I appreciate you, you do the same, come back and see us!" Nelson said as she spoke with a customer outside the drive-thru window.

Nelson has worked for McDonald's for years, and she's always been committed to her customers.

"I keep them going in this drive-thru, I do," she said. "If I made anybody day or touch anybody, I knew that I did my job."

This time, though, those customers were committed to her.

Nelson thought she was being interviewed for a McDonald's campaign, but it turns out, that instead, it was the best Christmas gift she'd ever gotten.

"I wanted to let you know the real reason why you are meeting with your work family today," Celia Montgomery, owner, and operator of the store said in the surprise video.

While Nelson may have her work family in Caddo Valley, her actual family lives hundreds of miles away in Virginia.

During the pandemic, she wore a mask with her grandkids on it— which was about as close as she could be to them.

"I wanna say almost four years now," Nelson said. "It's been a minute."

So an anonymous customer, who was only identified as one of Nelson's regulars, decided to send in a card for the holidays.

It wasn't just any ordinary card to wish her well, but rather one that would make sure those years apart didn't continue to grow.

"You are the only person I know who went through all the effort to spread love during the pandemic by sharing the smiles of those grandbabies when we couldn't see your smile," Nelson said, holding back tears as she read through the letter attached to the card.

Only Montgomery knows who the person who sent the card is but she explained that the person chose to remain anonymous.

"That's why she did this," Montgomery said. "I was blown away, and I think Aretha was blown away for sure."

Inside that card was enough money for Nelson to travel home and see her grandkids, along with extra to buy them gifts for the holidays. 

While she may be used to her customers needing her, this time, all she needed was them.

"I see it on TV all the time, but who would think of me?" Nelson said. "I mean, it sounds still unreal, unbelievable, but I do have my ticket so it is real! I'll get to see them grandbabies soon!"

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