One employee and her three children received the ultimate gift thanks to the kindness of a customer.

Ebony Johnson works at a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru in Cincinnati where Suzanne Burke is a regular customer. The two became fast friends, talking every time Burke got her morning coffee. Burke was concerned when one day she noticed her friend hadn’t been to work in a few weeks.

When Johnson returned to work she shared with Burke that she was struggling financially and was trying to find housing for her and her three children after being evicted from her Mount Healthy home.

I wanted to give up. I cried. I come to work every day and nobody knows what I’m going through because I always try to have a smile for our customers.

Ebony Johnson to TODAY Food

Can I help?

Burke left Johnson a note offering to help. She accepted and Burke, who has done work with social services in her career, started reaching out to different businesses and organizations.

I just wanted to see if I could help her just improve her life and the life for her kids. I wanted to make sure that they had stable housing, so that she could continue to provide the excellent service she does at Dunkin’.

Suzanne Burke to WCPO News

With assistance from local organizations and designers, Burke surprised Johnson and her children with a fully-furnished home.

Strangers to the rescue

Johnson was able to secure the apartment through the help of the Cincinnati-based organization Strategies to End Homelessness. Burke contacted New Life Furniture Bank, a gently-used furnishing bank for those in need, and staging designer Jo Potvin of Design to Market and they worked together to fully furnish and decorate the new home for her friend.

The final result was unveiled to Johnson and her family and the emotional moment was captured by WCPO.

“Thank y’all so much,” Johnson said through tears. “Thank you so much for helping me.”

Working together

Potvin and Dana Saxton, the executive director of New Life Furniture Bank, were happy to help and said it was a gift to be able to provide this for the family.

A group of caring people in the community worked together to make sure that the hardworking mom and beloved Dunkin’ employee and her children had a warm, comfortable home. That’s the kind of team work we should all be striving to be a part of.

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