GV Chamber of Commerce pays it forward in holiday spirit

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This year the Gardena Valley Chamber of Commerce did something a little different for Christmas Day. On Dec. 20 and again, Christmas Day, Shoppers at the Gardena Food 4 Less on Artesia Boulevard had their grocery bill paid for.

Shoppers were selected according to what they had in their shopping cart, Chamber reps said. Then they were asked if they would allow theChamber representatives to pay for their groceries.

It took some convincingsince most shoppers did not believe that complete strangers wanted topay for their groceries, a Chamber official said.

This year the Gardena Valley Chamber of Commerce did something a little different for Christmas Day. On Dec. 20 and again, Christmas Day, Shoppers at the Gardena Food 4 Less on Artesia Boulevard had their grocery bill paid for.

Shoppers were selected according to what they had in their shopping cart, Chamber reps said. Then they were asked if they would allow theChamber representatives to pay for their groceries.

It took some convincingsince most shoppers did not believe that complete strangers wanted topay for their groceries, a Chamber official said.

“The shoppers were totally surprised that someone would generously pay for their groceries without asking for anything in return, except a picture,” Wanda Love, Chamber director said.

Love and helper, Lauren Sutton, randomly paid for shopper’s groceries for more than four hours.

To be selected, the shoppers could only havethe necessary food items for a Christmas day dinner and no liquor ortobacco.

“We wanted to make sure that this year’s donations to the community of
Gardena went where they were needed most—on the table,” Love said.

Shopper DavidBlocker was in the store to check his EBT card for his food stampbalance, just to find out by the cashier that there was no foodstamps amount available.  Blocker said he had no idea what he was going to do.

That is until the chamber stepped in. Blocker was then able to get his groceries for this holiday, which provided Christmas Day dinner and then some, for the family, including his grandchildren.

Shopper Terri Wilkins had been out on disability from Albertson’s Grocery chain and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. To make matters worse, her family was sick with the flu. She had not worked in months and was stressing about the
holidays. Her prayers were answered by the Chamber and its supporters.

Shopper after shopper told similar stories of tough times during this
Christmas season. The grocery totals ranged from less than $20 to
as much as $318.

Funds for the Christmas pay it forward program were through a variety of donations.

At the heart of the funds was an anonymous donation of $2,500 in gift cards to Ralphs and Food 4 Less. Sen. Rod Wright donated $150 and Ismail Kannike, gave a gift of $100.

“We want to say thank you to all who gave to make this a special holiday,” Love said. “And a thank you to Juan Hernandez for letting us come in and disrupt his store for a few hours,” Love added. “We could not have done this without your support.”