Paul Jenkins (left)

Shoppers get on board for Japanese relief

It’s not every day a cheque this size comes across Jim Dores’s desk.

It’s not every day a cheque this size comes across Jim Dores’s desk.

“I haven’t been with Thrifty Foods long but I sense that they are very reactive to situations like that, and when this came across my desk, I thought, holy mackerel, this is tremendous,” Dores said.

Since a massive earthquake and tsunami ravaged parts of Japan on March 11, Thrifty shoppers have donated more than $54,000 at grocery tills in support of relief efforts. Dores presented the funds last Wednesday to Paul Jenkins, regional council president of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Red Cross.

“I’m surprised every day,” said Dores, who has been in the grocery retail business for more than 40 years, including 12 with Sobeys and five months with Thrifty’s.

“I’ve never met an organization or a culture like this,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s local or it’s international, it just seems that the culture of Thrifty Foods is to jump in and be there.”

Funds donated by customers on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland will be distributed by the Canadian Red Cross to the Japanese Red Cross, to provide people with the basic necessities of life.

More than 100,000 remain in emergency shelters in Japan, and Jenkins said it could take at least 10 years for them to rebuild their lives. International assistance is helping.

“We seem to go from one (disaster) to another,” said Jenkins. “It amazes me people continue to support one (crisis) after the other, which is heartening.”