By BECKY KISER
Since her mom convinced her to enter the annual Hays Sunrise Rotary Club’s Grocery Grab and even bought her $10 winning ticket, Plainville resident Sheila Eichman handed over the frozen turkey she grabbed Wednesday night to her mom, Shirley Eichman.
Sheila Eichman’s name was drawn from more than 270 entries in the fourth annual fundraiser for the Sunshine Rotary Club which uses the proceeds for improvements to Ekey Park, 1902 Holmes. “I was shocked I won,” she said. Her mother, Shirley, lives in WaKeeney and works at Enersys in Hays.
Eichman had just five minutes to race through Dillon’s, 1902 Vine, and managed to toss $833.90 worth of free groceries from the shelves into two grocery carts. Store manager Don Koerner watched while several Rotary Club members chased along. Martin Straub recorded the trek on his iPad while president Larry Dreiling acted as the official timer, loudly yelling out the remaining minutes and seconds.
Still slightly out of breath as she watched the Dillon’s clerk check out and total up her winnings, Eichman joked “I should have trained for this for awhile.”
There were a few restrictions for the grocery grab, including a one minute limit in the meat department with a maximum two items of each type. Pharmacy, alcohol, and tobacco products were prohibited.
“I went for the staples, filling up our pantry,” Eichman said. She started in the meat department and soon headed straight to the coffee aisle. “Oh my gosh, I love coffee,” she laughed. Although her kids had made some requests on what she should pick up, Eichman stuck with the basics, including industrial size containers of cooking oil and black pepper.
Eichman, who works in the Rooks County Health Center business department, and her boyfriend Alon Zimmerman, scoped out the grocery store to determine her strategy before the event started.
“We haven’t shopped here since Dillon’s was remodeled so I wanted to find out where everything was. It’s a lot bigger than the old store,” she said. Zimmerman, who acted as “chief scout and cheerleader” helped load the groceries in their vehicle. “There were a lot of bags,” he smiled.
According to club member Martin LaBarge, whose two daughters were along to watch the fun, the grocery grab is “usually the week before Thanksgiving. We work with Dillon’s to determine which day works for them.” The event is held in the evening when there are generally fewer customers in the store. Wednesday night’s shoppers were advised over the store’s public address system about what was going to happen and asked to “step aside” if possible, while Eichman ran through the aisles.
The Sunrise Rotary Club pays for the groceries out of the ticket proceeds. “We raised a little over $2,500 bucks,” Dreiling reported. The remaining money will go into the club’s fund to pay for a restroom in Ekey Park.
“We’ve built up the playground area and put in a picnic area, but the one thing we don’t have is a restroom. So we’re raising money to put in a restroom similar to what’s installed in downtown Hays. The Parks Department can lay it down very quickly.
“It runs about $20,000. We’re about halfway there right now. It’s a major fundraiser. Hopefully, within a year or two, I think we’ll have it done,” Dreiling predicted.
“One of the best things about it, with the restroom facility, the citizenry will be able to rent out the park and use the picnic area for family reunions, high school graduations, quinceaneras, whatever you want to have.”
And, oh yes, Eichman did earn Dillon’s fuel points with her grocery haul–80 cents off a gallon. “I’m definitely going to enter again next year, and I bet a lot of my co-workers will too,” she added with a grin.
Chartered April 29, 2010, the Hays Sunrise Rotary Club is the newest service club in Hays. It is comprised of 20 men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service above self. The club meets the second and fourth Thursday mornings of each month in the Tiger Room of Fort Hays State University’s Gross Memorial Coliseum.
New members are always welcome. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit hayssunriserotary.org.