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Ellen gifts $50k to Chicago woman who helped homeless during cold snap

Candice Payne during her appearance on the Ellen Show, which aired Wednesday. | YouTube

The woman who spearheaded an effort to get hotel rooms for more than 100 homeless people during Chicago’s brutal cold snap last week received a huge surprise during an appearance on the Ellen Show to talk about her good deed.

Candice Payne, a 34-year-old real estate developer from Auburn Gresham, was working from home during a subzero day when she started thinking about Chicago’s homeless population and decided to do something to help them stay warm.

Payne, who said her boyfriend was once homeless, was able to book 30 rooms at The Amber Inn after many other hotels turned her down. But she couldn’t transport everyone to the rooms herself, so she posted on social media asking people to help, and the post went viral.

With the help of everyone who donated, Payne was able to book 72 rooms for five nights. “We helped over 122 people,” she told DeGeneres.

After hearing her story, the talk-show host surprised Payne with $25,000 from Walmart.

Payne, who tearfully thanked DeGeneres for the gift, said helping the homeless is her newfound passion, and she wants to use the money to get her not-for-profit off the ground, which will provide homeless people with temporary and permanent housing.

Just as Payne finished explaining what she will do with her check, DeGeneres said she called Walmart during the show’s break and asked the company to give Payne another $25,000, bringing the gift to $50,000.

When reached by phone Wednesday, Payne said her appearance on The Ellen Show was “absolutely amazing.”

Candice Payne at The Ellen Show studios. | Provided