Before she changed careers, Cody High School teacher Stephany Anderson worked as a waitress.

Now her daughters are in the industry, one heavily reliant on a regular flow of customers. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused restaurants to restrict services to take-out and delivery wiping out table service for the time being.

“I waited tables for several years before becoming a teacher and am aware of that subsistence lifestyle and the impact of several days with low tips,” she said. “Wait staff in Wyoming are paid below $3 an hour. Their employer has to ensure minimum wage but that is not enough to survive.

“My daughters are waitresses. They shared their dilemma with dropping customers and hours and bills to pay.”

Anderson said her daughters were more concerned about coworkers in tough circumstances, with some of them being single mothers.

So Anderson searched online and found Virtual Tip Jar hosted by Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Ethics and Policy. It lets visitors deposit money directly to the Venmo or PayPal accounts of any servers who have signed up. The website also allows users to randomize their selection.

The program had instructions and a contact person who helped her set it up. For the program to work it also needed a website to host, and Anderson had one handy.

“I manage the website for the Skyler Gabel Group nonprofit,” she said. “We thought this was perfect for us because Skyler loved to take family and friends out to eat and always cared about his servers.”

Within a couple of days 13 service workers had already responded and more are welcome. Service workers just need to to create a PayPal or Venmo account so customers can send tips directly to them. And customers just need to go to and help those who rely on tips make it through this tough period.

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