By Christina Fecher
What began in 2014 as a fun way to spread holiday cheer and give thanks to our customers, has become a Meijer family tradition where a customer in each of our stores is “gifted” everything in their shopping cart on one day during the holiday season.
Here are some fun memories from the past four Very Merry Meijer events.
The event’s inaugural year was met with tears of joy, a little disbelief and even some screams of delight.
Nearly all the 213 customers chosen at random were buying gifts for their children, grandchildren or family members. One little boy from Grand Haven, Mich. was shopping with his mom and was seen eyeing a new bike, but it just wasn’t in the budget that year. But Meijer Board Member Doug Meijer decided to surprise him at checkout with that bike to make the season a little brighter.
Several customers were so surprised by the gifts that they announced plans to spread the good cheer, including a family from Freeland, Mich. who used the money they had planned on spending before their Very Merry Meijer surprise to purchase presents and groceries for family and friends who’d fallen on difficult times.
We learned from our customers.
After receiving our gift the previous year, so many of them chose to buy gift cards for out-of-work relatives, make large offerings at church and bought gifts and groceries for their neighbors.
So, for this Very Merry Meijer event held Nov. 21 at our 223 stores, we took their lead and encouraged our customers to continue paying it forward with an additional $100 Meijer gift card for a charity of their choice, or an individual or family in need.
A Findlay, Ohio customer matched the $100 gift card and then donated an additional $100 to help the City Mission in Findlay prepare for a large Thanksgiving dinner.
And we also gave thanks to our team members by giving a $100 Meijer gift card to the cashiers involved in the surprises. We know our customers’ great experiences are because of them, and the hard work and dedication they bring to our stores every day.
The Very Merry Meijer tradition continued Dec. 10 at 230 stores with the surprises renewing hope in the true meaning of the season or simply being appreciated during a time that can be quite stressful. The recipients’ stories were quite memorable …
A group of students from the Chippewa Valley High School was shopping with their athletic director for a family they adopted. The students raised more than $300 on their own, but when Meijer Board Member Doug Meijer learned of their story, not only did he gift them their entire cart, but they filled two extra carts with toys and clothes.
Executive Chairman Hank Meijer surprised an Ionia, Mich. woman who was shopping for the Giving Tree Program for her colleagues. She was overjoyed by the generosity. Having adopted children of her own, she chose St. Vincent’s Home in Lansing, Mich. for her $100 Meijer gift card pay-it-forward gesture.
A breast cancer survivor who just completed her fifth surgery was another Very Merry Meijer recipient. Her husband had also recently undergone open heart surgery. She expressed how difficult a year it had been for her family and was very thankful for the gift.
Another unsuspecting recipient was shopping with three young children for large amounts of clothing. As it turns out, she had four boys, aged 7, 5, 3 and 1, and the oldest three were brothers whom she was fostering. She was purchasing clothes because they had come to her with ones that were very worn out or filled with holes.
And a grandmother of 14 from Danville, Ill. was surprised when the store director purchased a huge cart of toys she was planning to buy for them for Christmas.
And by 2017
Very Merry Meijer was truly a tradition beloved by the Meijer family, executives and our extended family of team members from our 235 stores.
They don Santa hats, buy Christmas cards and employ a whole team of elves to help identify a customer to surprise upon checkout.
They share hugs and tears with customers, and words of encouragement and appreciation with cashiers who also receive a $100 Meijer gift card.
In St. Charles, Ill., a woman was purchasing toys for homeless children in her community and was very thankful for the generous surprise at checkout.
A Highland, Ind. Woman was brought to tears when she was surprise with her gifts: Two shopping carts brimming with presents for loved ones. She spent an hour gathering her coupons and clipping Meijer mPerks prior to shopping.
A Fraser, Mich. couple had been struggling to save money to make sure their four young children had a magical Christmas. But, armed with his recent paycheck, they filled two shopping carts with $687.74 worth of toys.
“That was going to be pretty much all our money. I’m speechless. I just want to cry … happy, happy tears. This will significantly help us. We were at the price scan, adding everything up. It’s a Christmas miracle.”
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