*The selected image contains a photograph of Michael Burrows
Mike Williamson, the owner of Central Fresh Market in Kitchener-Waterloo, wasn’t seeking publicity, but his act of kindness went viral thanks to customers who witnessed and shared it.
“I just saw a man get caught stealing from our local grocery store. Watched the owner confront him and pull fruit and veg out of his pack. Then I heard the owner say, ‘We will feed you.’ 5 minutes later I saw the man walking across the parking lot with a bag full of groceries,” wrote Twitter user @dkradersma.
Why a grocer helped a shoplifter
According to Mike’s son Josh, a middle-aged man walked through the store mainly packing produce into a backpack.
“You could tell he was just trying to support himself,” Josh said Toronto Star. “We always prefer people to come in and ask for help rather than steal, but when you catch people stealing just to eat, that’s a whole different story.”
Mike gave the man a submarine sandwich with pop, some fries, and a bag full of veggies and sent him off.
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When the story went viral, the market’s social media account received a lot of affection from longtime customers and from strangers alike.
“Thank you for your kindness. What a beautiful thing you have done and what an amazing impact you will have on the people reading this. I sincerely thank you and all your staff for putting yourself at risk and all showed much grace,” tweeted another user @luckymom34.
“Thank you everyone for the positive comments,” the store posted on social media. “We were simply helping someone in need, many are so lucky NOT to be worried about their next meal. It is heartbreaking to witness firsthand the food insecurity of our #communities. We believe that helping people in need is of great importance.”
How one man proved the importance of helping those in need
They also took the opportunity to shine the spotlight on longtime collaborator Jeff Meyer.
“Jeff always goes out of his way to help those in need, personally delivering products to Supportive Housing of Waterloo and has coordinated great initiatives with many of our providers,” they wrote in a Facebook post.
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“It’s just a regular day when Jeff reaches into his own pocket to support someone in need, whether it’s putting together a food hamper or taking a shoplifter to Tim Hortons for a coffee and donut.”
The store regularly donates to food banks and does a lot of work to ensure people are aware of available resources. “Sometimes that is the hardest part. People are embarrassed and it’s a touchy subject,” Josh said.
But this market goes out of its way to ensure that no one in their community goes hungry.
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https://www.goalcast.com/grocery-store-owner-free-food-shoplifter-kitchener-waterloo/ The owner gives free food to a man who was caught shoplifting in the store