SAN DIEGO — More than 1,000 people have raised at least $10,000 in tips for a Starbucks employee who refused to serve a woman who was not wearing a mask in one of the chain's cafes in San Diego.
The outpouring comes after the customer posted on Facebook about the incident. Her post currently has hundreds of thousands of interactions.
"Meet lenen (sic) from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I'm not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption," the woman's post was captioned.
Local ordinances in San Diego County currently require everyone to wear a mask in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, there is a clause that says if a person has a health condition that prevents them from covering their face, they do not have to wear a mask.
A spokesperson for San Diego County said there is no official rule to enforce the county's mask policy, and people with health problems are not required to have proof. The spokesperson also said it's up to businesses to enforce county rules and advised anyone with health problems to avoid public places.
Despite the Facebook post, many commenters showed support for Lenin, the Starbucks employees.
"There's no reason to publicly shame a kid who's trying to work his shift like any other day," one commenter wrote.
"They are following what they're told. I understand your frustration But it's being at aimed at the wrong people," a second commenter wrote.
"If you cannot wear a mask, why not go through the drive through?" another commenter said.
Many of those commenters said they wanted to give Lenin a tip, so one man stepped in to help. Matt Cowan made a GoFundMe page for Lenin and said he's been shocked to see how many people are donating.
"I set it at $1,000, thinking that was a reach and we would be lucky if we hit like $250. And when we hit $100 I was overwhelmed by that," Cowan said.
At last count, the donations surpassed $10,000. Cowan said he's been upping the goal amount as people continue to donate, with plans to hand-deliver every penny to Lenin once it calms down. He said it's up to Lenin to decide how he wants to spend that money.
"Everybody is rallying around somebody for doing what they're supposed to do and trying to protect everyone else," Cowan said. "It just goes to show you there are a lot of good people out there, and that outweighs the bad."
Lenin shared a picture of him holding a sign that says, "Thank you everyone for the tips!!! Stay Safe.
"We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores. We respectfully request customers follow social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores," a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement. "More information on what customers can expect in our stores can be found on our At a Glance page."
This story was originally published by Leah Pezzetti on KGTV in San Diego, California.