Grocery stores have seen some interesting times in the past few months, and certainly in dire times people have been behaving in ways that are a little more extreme than usual.
As businesses, stores have to remain profitable or go under — but they’re still made up of individuals, and apparently those individuals at a store in Canada are watchful but kindhearted.
This particular instance of generosity began when a middle-aged man walked into Central Fresh Market in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. As he walked through the store, he placed items — mostly produce — into his knapsack, apparently intending to make off with them.
As he tried to leave, he was stopped and the contents of his bag were discovered. He could have been dealt with justly, but as one onlooker observed, he was treated with compassion instead.
“Just witnessed a man caught stealing at our local grocery,” tweeted an account by the handle Drkradersma on April 20. “Watched the owner confront him and pull fruits & vegetables out of his pack.”
“Then heard the owner say, ‘we will feed you.’ 5 minutes later saw the man walking thru the parking lot with a bag full of groceries.”
Just witnessed a man caught stealing at our local grocery. Watched the owner confront him and pull fruits & vegetables out of his pack. Then heard the owner say, “we will feed you.” 5 minutes later saw the man walking thru the parking lot with a bag full of groceries. #kwawesome
— our lives are in one another’s hands (@Drkradersma) April 20, 2020
This wasn’t a heist to pay for a lavish vacation or pad a bank account: the man was stealing essentials. He simply needed some food, and the owner saw that.
The owner, Mike Williamson, apparently caught the would-be thief, but after assessing the situation, grabbed a sandwich, a soda, some chips and some vegetables, and gave them to the man, according to what his son Josh told the Waterloo Chronicle.
“You could tell he was just trying to feed himself,” Josh said. “We always prefer people to come in and ask for help rather than steal, but when you catch people stealing just to eat it’s a much different story.”
“Thank You all for the positive comments,” the store posted on social media. “We were simply helping someone in need, many are very fortunate NOT to worry about their next meal.”
“Witnessing our #communities food insecurity first hand is heartbreaking. We believe it is of great importance to help those in need.”
“We would like to take this opportunity to recognize a long term employee for volunteer week, Jeff Bam Bam Meyer,” they added on Facebook. “Jeff continually goes above and beyond to help those in need, he personally delivers products to Supportive Housing of Waterloo and has coordinated great initiatives with many of our vendors.”
“It is an ordinary day when Jeff reaches into his own pocket to support somebody in need, whether it be by putting together a food hamper or taking a shoplifter to Tim Hortons for a coffee and donut.”
“Jeff is an incredible promoter of our #communities #outreach programs – Jeff makes sure everyone in need is aware help exists, and how to get it!”
The store regularly donates to food banks and does a lot of work to make sure people know about available resources.
“So we’re really trying to push on that and drive the awareness that a little bit really means a lot to some people,” Josh said, admitting that it can be hard to reach people in need. “That’s the hardest parts sometimes. People are embarrassed and it’s a touchy subject.”
There’s no shame in asking for help when it’s truly needed, and in these strange times, it would behoove us all to follow Central Fresh Market’s lead.
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