Correction: In the original story there was an extra word in the headline which has been removed.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Regulars at the McDonald’s on North MacArthur near the Kilpatrick Turnpike know what to expect when they drive through cashier Maria Jones’ line. “Hi, baby!”

“Baby,” “Honey,” “Sweetie,” etc. is how Maria greets her customers. It’s her cheery personality that keeps regulars coming back.

“Are you having a good day?” Tara Gross asked Maria in the drive-thru line. “You know I’m having a blessed day, baby!” Maria said.

But on this day, Tara didn’t just drive through Maria’s line, she went inside, where she secretly met News 4’s Heather Holeman, the McDonald’s owners, and First Fidelity Bank, to cook up a big surprise.

“She fits the true definition of outstanding,” Tara told our camera crew. “She had a stroke recently, she was gone for quite a bit and I was really worried.”

Maria is back in action now, but with some extra medical bills. So, Tara had the idea to nominate Maria for a $400 Pay It 4Ward award from First Fidelity Bank’s Brian Perceful.

“Tara, First Fidelity Bank loves recognizing amazing people in our community, and after hearing your story about Maria, clearly she is exactly what Pay It 4ward is all about. We are super happy to do just a little part in helping her out,” Brian said.

Photo goes with story
Maria Jones serving up burgers, fries, and kindness. Image KFOR

And with the $400 in hand, it was time to surprise the lucky lady, who was shocked and jumped back when Maria saw our camera.

After coaxing her out from behind the counter, Tara hugged Maria and said, “I want you to know how radiating you are to everyone that passes through your drive-thru. You have the biggest smile, you’re so kind, and so positive. And I know throughout the year, I’ve been coming through your drive thru, and you’ve had some hardships. I know that can be a weight to carry, so I, on behalf of First Fidelity Bank, want to help you a little bit more… and give you $400.”

“Oh my God, y’all!” Maria shouted.

But Maria’s surprise didn’t stop there. The two owners of the McDonald’s store matched First Fidelity Bank’s $400 each, giving her another $800, for a total of $1,200, bringing Maria to tears. She was so excited, she told every customer who drove up to her window.

“Don’t be worried about this camera,” she told one driver. “Channel 4 just gave me $400 and then I got $400 from two of my bosses.” “That’s awesome!” the customer replied. “I’m tellin’ you!” she said.

Photo goes with story
Maria Jones getting a big hug as thanks for her big heart. Image KFOR

One driver gave Maria a high five, while another said, “You make everybody happy.” “Thank you, Baby,” Maria said.

After 22 years of working for McDonald’s, Maria says it’s her customers that keep her coming back to work each day. “I love my job,” she said. “I’m just such a people person and the people out there just make me happy. They make me get up in the morning and come to work.”

And that attitude is the very reason customers like Tara keep coming back. “If there is a definition of a bigger, bigger heart – she has the biggest,” Tara said.

If you know someone deserving of a Pay It 4Ward award, you can nominate them here.

Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.