PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — A Pinellas Park couple was so moved by employees at a Winn-Dixie after they had their groceries paid for, they decided they needed to thank them for their hard work.
Southeastern Grocers, the parent company for stores like Winn-Dixie, started specific shopping hours on Mondays and Tuesdays for healthcare workers and first responders.
Two days ago, community heroes in seven states got a big surprise when the company paid for all their groceries.
Jillian Rose is a first responder in Pinellas County. She was checking out at Winn-Dixie in Pinellas Park on Monday when employees told her not to pay.
“Don’t put your credit card in the machine, and I said 'OK,'” said Rose. “He looked up to me, smiled and said, 'we want to thank you for all you do for our community, Winn-Dixie just paid for all of your groceries.'”
Rose was moved to tears as she left the store with her husband.
“It was just one of the nicest things anybody had ever done, and the minute we got into the car, we just conspired on how we were going to pay it forward back to them,” said Rose.
To show their appreciation for the grocery store’s frontline workers, the couple bought 70 gas cards for all the Pinellas Park store employees and delivered them to the manager Wednesday morning.
“Just a little thank you to let them know we appreciate what they’re doing for us,” said Tracey Schofield, Rose’s husband.
Store manager Daniel Roun said he knows his employees will be grateful for the surprise. Roun says the COVID-19 crisis has been stressful for employees, but serving others is what they do.
“We feed people,” said Roun. “We sell groceries and we feed people. And it’s good for us to know that we’re doing something like this to help feed people and maybe take a little burden off them when they maybe don’t have to pay for one grocery shopping trip.”
Rose and Roun encourage other people to find ways to pay it forward during the health crisis. As her letter to employees Wednesday morning read: "Not all heroes wear capes. In this case, they wear Winn-Dixie name tags."
“We see them, we see the extra steps they’re taking,” said Rose. “They’re wiping down the carts as we’re coming in so we have sanitized carts ready to use, putting the markers on the floor so we know to stand six feet behind, keeping our shelves stocked, helping us with questions. We see them, and we appreciate everything that they’re doing.”