The story of Isom IGA Owner Gwen Christon's resilience has traveled from Letcher County, Kentucky across the country and made it all the way to Good Morning America.
As Christon continues her work to rebuild her store after it was destroyed by historic floods in late July, the local grocer received uplifting news from ABC and the national morning show this month thanks to GMA Gives Back.
GMA’s sponsor Netspend donated $10,000 towards Isom IGA’s rebuilding efforts and gave two roundtrip tickets to Gwen and her husband Arthur to go see “Moulin Rouge!” in New York City, fulfilling Christon's lifelong dream to see a Broadway show.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear even presented by video call an acclimation recognizing Gwen for her strong faith, kindness, and resiliency and her commitment to the people of eastern Kentucky.
During the broadcast, Gwen, Arthur, and their son Simon had an energetic crowd of Letcher County residents who have been supporting the independent grocer that has served as a community pillar for decades. The GMA team interviewed numerous residents to tell how much the grocer means to them and how Isom IGA stepped up after the community lost its only full-service grocery store within 20 miles.
“This parking lot became a hub for flood relief,” says Malcolm Wilson, longtime customer. “For at least a month, Gwen was out here under a tent to help people. Her whole livelihood destroyed and she was still out here passing out water, clothes, and meals.”
“She’s one of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever seen. If there’s an accident or something in the neighborhood, Gwen is there to help,” says Peggy Bach, a longtime customer.
The check from GMA and Netspend is one of many contributions Christon has received – including a $75,000 donation in September. Rebuilding efforts are currently underway at Isom IGA, which Christon hopes will open its door again in April 2023.
Alan Atwood, retailer counselor with MDI, Isom IGA's licensed distribution center, said the current restoration timeline is on schedule, with equipment for the various departments (dairy, meat, bakery etc.) arriving in January.
Atwood said Christon is continuing to keep the Isom IGA name alive in her community. Around Thanksgiving, she bought $10,000 worth of product from MDI to make holiday bags including turkey, ham, and all the fixings and handed them out in the parking lot.
Surrounded by friends and family, Christon was emotional and thankful throughout the broadcast. "Thank you so much...I just can't believe it. I can't believe you all have done this," she said, "Thank you so much."
See the full video below. For the report, click here.
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