Market owner Mike Williamson’s act of kindness went viral on social media, thanks to customers who witnessed the act.

*Featured image contains photo by Michael Burrows

Mike Williamson, the owner of Central Fresh Market in Kitchener-Waterloo, wasn’t looking for publicity, but his act of kindness went viral thanks to customers who witnessed and shared it.

“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,” twitter user @drkradersma posted.

Why a Grocery Store Owner Helped a Shoplifter

apples in a net bag
Photo by Rachel Claire

According to Mike’s son, Josh, a middle-aged man was walking around the store putting mostly produce in a knapsack.

“You could tell he was just trying to feed himself,” Josh told the 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 it’s a much different story.”

Mike gave the man a submarine sandwich and pop, some chips, and a bag full of vegetables, and sent him on his way.

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When the story went viral, the market’s social media account received a lot of love from long-time customers and from strangers.

“Thank you for your kindness. What a beautiful thing you did and what an amazing influence you will have on people reading this. I sincerely thank you and all of your staff for putting yourself at risk and for showing such grace,” another user @luckymom34 tweeted.

“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.”

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They also took the opportunity to shine on the spotlight on long term employee Jeff Meyer.

“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,” they wrote in a Facebook post.

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“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.”

The store regularly donates to food banks and does a lot of work to make sure people know about available resources. “That’s the hardest part sometimes. People are embarrassed and it’s a touchy subject,” Josh said.

But this market goes out of their way to help make sure no one in their community goes hungry.


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