All across Texas over the past 36 hours, some 125 Walmart employees each received a surprise $100 as they walked out of their Thanksgiving shifts. The gifts were made by an anonymous donor to recognize them for working over the holiday in preparation for this weekend’s retail rush.
“I wasn’t thrilled about working on Black Friday because I knew what to expect,” said Walmart employee Erick Rock of Dallas. “For this to come up after a day’s work literally lit my day and brought me to near tears.”
Stephani Kohl of Austin will use the extra cash to buy holiday gifts for her family. “This is the best news I could have gotten today,” she said. “I definitely needed this break. I’ll be able to get my babies a couple extra presents.”
The donor has no affiliation with Walmart, but chose Walmart employees in Texas as a representative cross-section of retail workers everywhere facing Black Friday.
The gifts were delivered using Earnin — an app that gives people access to their pay as they earn it, right from their smartphones. Earnin helped instantly deliver the cash to Walmart workers as they left work, depositing more than $12,000 in the Texans’ bank accounts. Earnin was an easy way to deliver the unexpected cash gifts, as thousands of people use the app every day to receive their day’s pay.
“The donor chose to remain anonymous to keep the spotlight on those who worked during Thanksgiving,” said Ram Palaniappan, Earnin’s founder and CEO. “Too often with major events like Black Friday, we forget the hard-working employees behind the scenes who make it all possible for us.”
Rather than charging interest or fees, Earnin asks users to pay what they think is fair.
Users say using the app saves them millions of dollars a month in overdraft fees and interest. Still, Americans pay approximately $100 billion every year in overdraft and late fees, in large part due to the rigid pay cycle that holds over $1 trillion of unpaid wages.