Groceries were paid for when they were called to an emergency


A group from the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District is searching for a one-of-a-kind dinner guest in order to say thanks for a recent act of kindness.

As they do at the start of most shifts, on the morning of Aug. 29, a shift crew from Station 2 on Dean Street set out for groceries.

Food and drink for the WFRD team is paid for from their own pockets. According to firefighter/paramedic Jake Biederer, many people don’t realize that it is the responsibility of the employees to pay for their own food while working.

“There’s a misunderstanding,” Biederer said. “The public thinks we get money from the department to shop. We cover our own food every single shift.”

Depending on who is preparing meals for the 24-hour shift, either the engine or ambulance crew ventures out for groceries, often taking turns.

The morning of Aug. 29, the ambulance crew was shopping for groceries at Aldi in Woodstock. After debating what to cook for their shift, they settled on ingredients for meatloaf. They were about to check out when they were dispatched to a call for a child having a seizure.

As they’ve done in the past, the crew asked to set aside their groceries. This isn’t anything new for Aldi employees, one of whom gladly took the cart into a refrigerated area.

“It’s not an uncommon occurrence. We usually take the cart to somebody and have them put it in a cooler for us so we can come back to it,” said Ryan Mains, a firefighter and paramedic.

After responding to the call — which ended positively, the crew said — the ambulance crew returned to Aldi to pay for and pick up their groceries. When an employee returned with a cart of bagged groceries, Mains hesitated.

“When they brought it out, it was bagged. I said I didn’t think that was ours. She said someone paid for all of it. It gave me goosebumps. I have heard stories about this happening, and you see these things on Facebook,” Mains said.

The crew intends to pay it forward. They hope to find the person and cook dinner for them.

“I want to have them in for a meal. It’s the least we can do,” Mains said.

Mains and crew explained the kitchen table is held in high regard at the station.

“Mealtime is very important in the firehouse, because we’re always together. We don’t all get to come together a lot,” Mains said. “So at mealtime, when it’s possible, and we do come together, it’s a very sacred place.”

A Facebook post on the Woodstock Career Firefighters IAFF Local 4813 page was made to help locate the charitable person who paid for the groceries. The shift crew at Station 2 hopes to locate the person and invite him or her to join them at the firehouse dinner table, to thank them and share stories.

“We solve the world’s problems at the kitchen table,” Biederer said.

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