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Couple gives $50 to every Lunds & Byerlys employee in northeast Minneapolis

Bakery and deli manager James Thompson estimates that the couple spent $4,450 giving back to the essential workers who are keeping their shelves filled.
Credit: James Thompson
This thank you card was given to every employee at the northeast Minneapolis Lunds & Byerlys on Wednesday - along with $50.

MINNEAPOLIS — It was just an ordinary day after an extraordinary year at the Lunds & Byerlys in northeast Minneapolis.

The general manager called the employees into her office on Wednesday, in groups of five or six. 

"She explained to us that it was a gift from these people who wanted to do something nice for us," said bakery and deli manager James Thompson.

The manager handed out thank-you cards to each of the 89 employees. She told them to make sure they didn't lose the card - there was $50 in each one.

"We were all very surprised," Thompson said.

It's been a hard year for grocery store workers across the country, but these Minneapolis workers have been hit even harder after being impacted by the rioting that followed George Floyd's death in May.

"They just wanted to do something really nice for us for going through the COVID and the civil unrest that we went through downtown," Thompson said.

The card read, "We are two of your grateful customers, who wish to give you this gift as a token of our deep appreciation of the wonderful work you do every day to help us and all of your customers. There are few occupations that are more important right now than providing food to people, and the employees of Lunds and Byerlys do their often-difficult jobs with skill, good humor, and grace."

Thompson has been working for Lunds for 12 years, eight years at this location. He said it's still busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, but for a while, "every week was the week before Thanksgiving."

"We all take all the precautions we can with wearing gloves and masks and staying six feet away from everyone," he said. "Trying to stay safe but we all show up every day, and people have to eat. Just like that card says, there’s a few staples in life and one of them is eating."

Thompson estimates that the couple spent $4,450.

Even though they signed their names, Thompson said many of the employees do not know who the generous donors are. In this job they recognize mostly faces - not names.

"We all wear nametags, but you know, obviously the customers don’t," Thompson said.

Whoever they were, he said, they made the employees at this Lunds & Byerlys feel pretty good.

"For a customer or a guest to do that, it made us feel really appreciated," he said. "You know, that people are noticing what we’re doing."