Free food really a donation day for Mollie Tibbetts family

Information about Mollie Tibbetts sits on a counter at the Denny's Restaurant at I-80 and...
Information about Mollie Tibbetts sits on a counter at the Denny's Restaurant at I-80 and Highway 21. The food was free on Monday in exchange for a donation to the Tibbetts search efforts.(KCRG)
Published: Aug. 13, 2018 at 5:12 PM CDT
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Many people in the area around Brooklyn where Mollie Tibbetts disappeared have stepped up to help both the search and the family. And one restaurant along I-80 gave up an entire day's business on Monday for that effort.

The Denny's Restaurant at the I-80 and Highway 21 interchange started a "donation day" at 6 a.m. Monday. All the food came at no change through 10 p.m. Monday. All franchise owners asked for was a donation in exchange for the free food.

Half the crowd over the noon hour knew about the donation and half didn't.

One diner who was unaware, Kaleb Michel, doubled his lunch bill as his donation.

"Absolutely not, I didn't regret it. It was for a good cause and we hope to see her come home," Michel said.

The restaurant manager says many people either paid the exact bill as a donation to the cause of finding Tibbetts or told staffers to double it.

The franchise that owns the Denny's near Brooklyn also owns restaurants in California.

A similar donation day there earlier this summer raised $15,000 for wildfire victims. They were hoping to do the same for the Tibbetts family.

About 20 to 25 Denny's workers and managers from other restaurants around the country also traveled to Iowa to help out.

Rebecca Counsell was one of those. She came from St. Louis.

"I was like sign me up. I want to come I want to do what I can. There's a missing person we hope we can find. I have three teenagers near and dear to my heart so that's why I came," she said.

Franchise owners of the Denny's say all the money raised with either goes to search expenses or to help the Tibbetts family with expenses.

It's different than the missing person reward fund for Mollie Tibbetts. That fund on Monday reached $366,000.