$3.5K miracle comes to local Waffle House

Anita Sutherland, left, and Renda Finfrock, right, stop for a picture while on the clock at the Wapakoneta Waffle House on Tuesday night. Sutherland and Finfrock were both working early Christmas morning when members of Grand Lake Methodist Church in Celina left a $3,500 tip for the staff.
Staff Writer

It was business as usual at the Wapakoneta Waffle House on Sunday night and early Monday morning, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. One of the only 24 hour businesses in the area, Waffle House’s doors were open during the holiday, and through those doors walked a good old fashioned Christmas miracle.

It wasn’t until about 1 a.m. on Monday that Carla Dietrich and Anita Sutherland, both staff members at the restaurant, noticed something unusual was happening.

“It just started here and there, and then we looked up and the whole place was full, people everywhere,” Sutherland said. “I said to [Dietrich], ‘I don’t want to turn around.’ She said, ‘Don’t.’”

Overnights are typically sparsely staffed, so there were only a handful of employees on hand to feed the packed restaurant. The crew prepared themselves for the onslaught.

“Then the pastor starts talking,” Sutherland said.

“The whole church was here,” Dietrich said. “I thought they were going to start singing.”

The pastor, Rev. Mick Whistler from Grand Lake Methodist Church in Celina, had brought his congregation to Wapakoneta to impart an important lesson. And it had nothing to do with the joy of song.

For the entire season of Advent, Whistler had been collecting donations from church-goers, asking for a dollar a week. Then, on Christmas Eve, he revealed...

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