A Detroit traffic cop was brought to tears when a TikToker gave her $500. Days later, viewers gave her another $50,000 to change her life.

Screenshots of the warden from TikTok.
Zachery Dereniowski is an acts of kindness TikToker with 16.1 million followers.Zachery Dereniowski via TikTok
  • TikTok creator Zachery Dereniowski gave a traffic controller $500 as a random act of kindness.

  • The recipient, Linita Edge, teared up, saying her family was struggling financially at the time.

  • Viewers raised another $54,525 for Edge and her family through GoFundMe.

A Detroit traffic cop was given $50,000 after a TikTok influencer helped her story of financial struggle go viral.

In a TikTok posted on May 15, the day after Mother's Day, Zachery Dereniowski, an acts of kindness creator with 16.1 million followers, approached Linita Edge on the street as she was working on duty to guide traffic.

Dereniowski initially asked Edge if she would buy a jersey from him for $1 as part of the stunt for the video. He went on to ask her some questions about herself, including whether she was a fan of the baseball team, the Detroit Tigers.

The video then cut to a clip of Dereniowski asking a man, who Edge said was her lieutenant, if there was a chance Edge could leave her shift early. When he approved, Dereniowski said he was going to take her to a baseball game that evening, and handed her $500 in cash.

"It's Mother's Day weekend. I want to celebrate a mom," the TikToker said.

Edge began to tear up, explaining that she recently told her son their family would have to "pull it together" to try and cope with some financial struggles they were experiencing.

"I told them, 'we're just going to have to pray,'" she said, adding, "Thank you Jesus," in response to the TikToker's generosity.

Dereniowski's video received 9.5 million views, and viewers said they were touched by Edge's story and her vibrant personality in the video.

"She was doing everything with a smile on her face with all that pain hiding behind. 🥰 A true warrior," one commenter wrote.

In the caption under his post, the TikToker directed viewers towards a GoFundMe page he set up for Edge, something he does for a number of people who appear in his videos.

In the fundraiser description, Dereniowski wrote that the traffic cop recently lost her husband and was now the sole provider for her family. He added that all proceeds from the GoFundMe would go towards "paying rent, food bills, and helping her sons with their education."

The fundraiser has made $54,525 in three days, and on May 17, Dereniowski filmed himself taking Edge back to Comerica Park, a baseball stadium in downtown Detroit, where stadium announcer Chris Butzlaff said over the intercom that the people of Detroit who had seen Dereniowski's TikTok raised these extra funds for her.

Edge was presented with a cheque for $50,000 and could be seen dropping to her knees in tears during the video.

In an interview with CBS Detroit, Edge said she's shocked that a TikToker's request for her to buy a jersey could possibly end with such a huge gift falling into her hands.

"Who knew that a T-shirt would change my life," she told the outlet.

In a statement to Insider, Dereniowski said he is grateful that his "online community came together" to gift Edge with the money.

"I hope that this 'viral kindness' is contagious and creates a ripple effect in the lives of people who have watched this video," he added.

Dereniowski is one of many popular TikTokers who post "random acts of kindness" content, where creators approach a stranger and give them a cash gift or offer them a unique opportunity, such as tickets to a sports game or concert.

The genre is beloved for the way it has allowed users to rally together to change lives, and has supported several ordinary people with the help they needed to retire in the past. However, such videos have also sparked controversy over concerns about whether the people in them have consented to being filmed.

For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider's Digital Culture team here.

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