Wauconda firefighters want to thank anonymous donor who bought their groceries
Lt. E.J. Miller and two other members of the Wauconda Fire District's gold shift were at the register with hamburger meat, buns, baked beans and bags of french fries Sunday afternoon when they received a call about a possible fire and had to leave.
They put their groceries back in their cart and took off for the emergency that turned out to be a false alarm.
When Miller and the others -- fire medics Chris Stephens and Seth Dishno -- returned to the store about 30 minutes later, they discovered the items had been paid for and bagged.
"We were pretty shocked," Miller said. "We weren't expecting that."
Miller asked a store employee if he knew who paid for the food, but the customer chose to remain anonymous.
"There was no receipt in the bag, so we don't even know what the total was," Miller said.
Stephens appreciates the Wauconda community's support.
"(They're) always willing to give back," he said.
The firefighters pay for their own meals and had pooled about $85 for Sunday's dinner. In the same spirit of giving, they gave the cash to the nonprofit Wauconda Island Lake Food Pantry on Wednesday.
The organization will use the money to buy milk, eggs, meat and other staples for as many as 200 needy local families, volunteer Marge Rucker said.
"This is especially nice this time of year because our supplies are lower than during the school year or the holidays," said Rucker, whose husband, Bob, is a retired Wauconda firefighter. "It will make a difference."
The firefighters also shared their story on Facebook -- and it's been an online hit.
More than 70,000 people have read the post, and more than 1,400 have clicked "like" to show appreciation. It's also been shared more than 300 times and has received more than 40 comments.
"It was by far the most viewed post we've put on our Facebook page," Miller said.