Raleigh bagel shop customers chip in to buy car for valued employee

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The magic of the holidays played out in north Raleigh Monday when a woman who works at a local bagel shop was surprised with a car.

Shirley Ratliff, who works at the Bruegger's Bagels off of Six Forks Road, had been saving for months when the money she collected suddenly had to go toward her health instead of some new wheels.

Shirley's loyal group of regular customers then pooled their money to buy Shirley the car she desperately needed to get back-and-forth to work.

"It means the world to me. I love these people," said Shirley. "I just didn't know they would go to this extreme to do something like this."

David Burton, a local dentist nearby, and president of the "Shirley Fan Club," helped orchestrate the surprise -- collecting the cash to buy a used 1992 Buick LeSabre with just 88,000 miles on it.

"$100 each to purchase the car for her and this will provide her transportation to and from work," said Burton, "and she probably won't have to be riding the bus, which she has been doing for many, many years now."

Despite the three buses it takes Shirley to get to work each day, she comes with a smile and personal touch, especially for her regulars.

So in the spirit of the season, her loyal customers smiled back at Shirley, who always has a smile for them.

"This is the best Christmas present I ever had," said Shirley.

Shirley has got the keys to her new wheels, but she can't drive the car quite yet.

She said she knows how to drive, but, since she didn't have a car, she never got her driver's license.

She said she'll be at the DMV very, very soon.

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