A local entrepreneur who wishes to remain anonymous recently undertook a mission to show his support for law enforcement.
Those efforts were ultimately expanded to include all first responders.
The mission concluded with each of Jones County’s sheriff’s deputies, Gray police officers and Jones County and City of Gray firefighters receiving gift cards for three lunches, one each at three local restaurants.
The entrepreneur’s plan not only demonstrated his support for first responders but also provided a hand up for local restaurants during an unstable time for small businesses.
The number of Jones County and Gray’s first responders totals 244, and each received three gift cards. That makes a total of 732 gift cards purchased by the entrepreneur. Some of the gift cards were valued at $10 and others $12, depending on the price of lunches.
The three restaurants selected by the donor were Jalapeños, Pickle Barrel and Chevy’s Pizza.
The Jones County News had the role of middleman between the anonymous donor and the first responders and presented the gift cards to a representative of each agency.
Sheriff Butch Reece said the gift cards were a morale booster for the men and women at the sheriff’s department.
“It made our day. I want to dearly thank whoever did this,” Reece said.
Gray Police Chief Adam Lowe said it meant a lot to have someone make such an effort to show their support.
“This is a different time, and there are a lot of parts to what is going on,” the chief said. “I can tell you this is very appreciated.”
The purchases from each of the local restaurants totaled $3,000 or more. Ramon Saucillo, owner and manager of Jalapenos, said business has been crazy for the past few months, and there was no doubt the bulk purchase of gift cards by the entrepreneur really helped.
“I don’t think he realized the impact this has made on others,” he said.
Saucillo said law enforcement officers and firefighters do a great job for the community, and that support is essential. But, he added what the donation did for the small businesses involved was also important.
“That single purchase allowed me not to have to worry about my electric bill this month, but it also makes a difference for someone to show they care,” he said. “It puts a smile on your face. I’m very thankful he thought about my restaurant.”
Saucillo said he hopes the thoughtfulness of the donor will give people a different perspective, but he said not everyone has the resources to do what the entrepreneur did.
The owner said someone he did not know paid for his coffee one morning recently, and it made his day.
“It makes you think we can all do something,” he said.
Chevy Turner, owner of Chevy’s Pizza, said the gift card purchase also meant a lot to her.
“I’m so glad he did that for our law enforcement and firefighters. I really appreciated that he chose to keep it local,” she said.
The owner of the Pickle Barrel, Bob Jaworski, said every little bit helps during this time, and the large purchase of the gift cards definitely made a difference.
“It was a wonderful thing he did,” Jaworski said. “It absolutely made an impact, and that he thought about us; I want to say a big thank you.”
The entrepreneur said the idea started with an idea of supporting the Gray Police Department, but then he thought about the Sheriff’s Department. He said, during a conversation about the idea, he was reminded that firefighters also put their lives on the line to protect the community.
The donor said he wanted to do enough for each first responder so they knew they were appreciated. He said, as a businessman, he understands what restaurants are going through and decided to keep it local.
“That way I can benefit law enforcement and our restaurants,” he said.