Man giving large tips at Madison restaurants to spread more positivity during pandemic

MADISON, Wis. — A man in Marshall has given out nearly $3,000 in tips around Madison the past two months.

Eric Salzwedel said during a time when there is so much negativity and bad news, his goal is to spread more joy and positivity.

“It’s awesome. It’s something I’ll do as long as people keep sending me money,” he said.

Salzwedel is doing what’s called the #VenmoChallenge. Salzwedel said he saw the idea on LinkedIn when a man he is connected with in Milwaukee showed what it was online. Salzwedel said he wanted to bring the idea to the Madison area, too.

“I can’t imagine what the restaurant business is going through,” he said.

Salzwedel said he posts his Venmo information online and puts a call out to friends and family to donate money to his Venmo account. Salzwedel takes 100% of the donations and tips his next server at whatever restaurant he chooses to eat at. He’s surprised servers at nearly 12 restaurants so far.

“To see their eyes light up and being able to give something to someone unexpectedly and just make their day and I think when you give this extra tip, it’s a cool reaction,” he said.

Salzwedel said restaurants have taken a major hit during the pandemic and his goal “is to be able to inspire others to make a difference.” Salzwedel said he knows firsthand the struggles this pandemic has put people through.

“I’ve tried to get this business going to support my family. It’s been tough,” he said.

In March, Salzwedel started his own business, Intentional Purpose Consulting. He works with companies to help with their charitable outreach and giving. While getting his own business started has been tough, he’s still making it his goal to pay it forward to those who may need it more than him. He’s hoping others can do the same.

“I think ultimately we can come together to try to support each other so we can get through this no matter how long it takes,” he said.

Salzwedel is also the co-founder of the Do Good Wisconsin Facebook page where he shares all the good things that everyday ordinary people are doing around Wisconsin. He also set up his own food pantry in front of his home where he said he’s given out more than 4,000 pounds of food since March.

If you would like to help Salzwedel keep the #VenmoChallenge going, you can send a donation to @EricSalzwedel on the Venmo app.