Foothills IGA Employees Celebrated By Local Chapel

Jul 7, 2020

"I-G-A! I-G-A!" Chants of support surrounded the Foothills IGA store on Saturday, June 6 as employees were treated to a well-deserved celebration for their service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Walking out to rounds of applause and cheers, a thank-you banner and arch of balloons, and honks from carloads of grateful shoppers and community members from nearby church Big Canoe Chapel, the associates waved and elbow-bumped with their appreciative community, who gathered (observing socially distancing rules) not once, but twice to ensure each shift received their dose of gratitude, welcoming the employees outside at the store's 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. shift changes that day. 

"All of the employees were truly touched by the extraordinary consideration, appreciation, and recognition of what they do everyday to serve this community," Foothills IGA Owner and Big Canoe Chapel Member Jeff Downing says, adding that some associates even teared up as the community cheered them on. "Everyone appreciates recognition for what they do, and perhaps one positive aspect of this Coronavirus pandemic is a greater appreciation by many for workers providing essential services for everyday life, that might often be taken for granted," he says. 

Foothills IGA Employees Celebrated By Local Chapel-800w

Wanting to show their appreciation for the IGA employees' service throughout the pandemic and stay-at-home order, Big Canoe Chapel trustees organized the thank you celebration that included pizza and dessert made by chapel members for the employees at each of the two celebrations.

The chapel members invited nearby communities to join the festivities via email, explaining, “These are the special IGA employees who serve us during this time of the virus. Join with your chapel friends and neighbors to honor these IGA employees.”

“Like so many we have been appreciative of our local store but so much more now," Big Canoe's Devon Collins said in an interview with Smoke Signal News, a community newspaper. "We were able to be sequestered in our homes and have our basic needs met because of these wonderful, hardworking employees. They were there every day with smiles while helping us with our groceries that were brought to our cars, reloading shelves and making sure our needs were met. These frontline workers might have been frightened of getting the virus, but they were there for our community,” she said. 

Downing is proud of his team for stepping up and continuing to serve the community during the pandemic, especially during the first few weeks when panic buying and supply hoarding were at a high. “Our employees were under much more than normal pressure to keep the store stocked and provide the great customer service that we strive always to provide. As a group they rose to the challenge," he says. Their IGA2GO service increased by 30 times or more very quickly, which led to family and friends coming in to help out at the store without pay, even though the store offered it. That kind of Hometown Proud community spirit makes all of the hard work worth it, Downing says. "Being close to the community that we serve makes what we do enjoyable and meaningful," he says. "As IGA operators, we have a unique opportunity to be closer to our customers than most conventional chain stores, which results in a competitive advantage."

That closeness is felt by the community, as you can see in the video of the celebration. “We hope they know how very much we appreciate all they have done and continue to do for the community,” Collins says.

“In all of my many years in the grocery business, I do not recall of ever hearing of something so special and sweet in recognition and praise of supermarket workers," Downing says. "I believe that all of our team certainly enjoyed the special day and that it will be remembered for some time."

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