A Good Samaritan who bought dozens of hotel rooms for homeless people during Chicago's polar vortex was gifted $50,000 on The Ellen Show to continue providing shelter for people in need.
As temperatures sunk to negative 22 degrees last month, Candice Payne, a real estate developer in Chicago, called hotels and motels asking if she could buy a lot of rooms for homeless people. Many turned her down, because they said it would be bad for business, Payne told Ellen in a show that aired Wednesday. But The Amber Inn welcomed her request. She booked 30 rooms for one night using her credit card.
Payne was partly inspired to help the homeless because her boyfriend was once homeless.
"The misconception about homeless people is that they think they are lazy or they just don’t want a job," she said on The Ellen Show. "Truth be told a lot people are one paycheck away from their same situation."
Payne worried she might need more resources to transport dozens of homeless people to the hotel. So she took to Instagram asking for help from anyone with a passenger van and also asked people to sponsor additional rooms and meals.
The post went viral, and Payne secured over 70 hotel rooms for five nights with help from others.
“We helped … it was 122 people," she told Ellen.
Children, pregnant women and disabled people were among the group, Payne said.
Ellen presented Payne with a $25,000 gift from Walmart, then gave her an additional $25,000 after a commercial break. Ellen said she was so inspired by Payne's story, she asked Walmart to give more money, and the company agreed.
Payne has launched an initiative, Action for a Cause, to help displaced people in Chicago, providing temporary and permanent housing options.