A good Samaritan who paid for hotel rooms during Chicago’s polar vortex to shelter more than 100 homeless people was given $50,000 on Wednesday’s “The Ellen Show.”
Candice Payne, a 34-year-old real estate broker from the Windy City, booked 30 hotel rooms last week during the record-low temperatures in the city.
Host Ellen DeGeneres said she was so inspired by Payne’s generosity that she reached out to Walmart for the five-figure donation so she can continue providing shelter for people in need.
She presented Payne with a $25,000 check from Walmart, then gave her an additional $25,000 check after a commercial break.
“She did it with no expectation of anything in return, and that is the type of person I want to meet,” DeGeneres said of Payne’s good deed.
Payne said she began calling around to hotels asking to book empty rooms but none wanted to take her up on her offer. She eventually called the local Amber Inn last Wednesday, when temperatures reached -25 degrees.
Robyn Smith, the manager of the Amber Inn, told The New York Times that others in the community started to “piggyback off Candice” and call in anonymously to book more rooms for her cause. Smith ended up lowering prices so everyone was accommodated.
Social media helped Payne organize a caravan of drivers with trucks and cars to provide transportation.
In all, she was able to secure 72 rooms over the course of five nights with the help of others who pitched in, helping a total of 122 people.
Payne told DeGeneres that she was inspired to help because her boyfriend experienced homelessness in his life.
“The misconception about homeless people is they think that they’re lazy or they just don’t want a job,” Payne said. “And truth be told, a lot of people are one paycheck away from their same situation.”
Payne also has an initiative called Action for a Cause which she said combines her passion for real estate with her goal of helping displaced Chicagoans find housing.