1. Home
  2. >
  3. Projects
  4. >
  5. Buying People Groceries

Buying People Groceries

First Name Dan
Last Name Carbonnell
E-mail dcarbonnell@cogeco.ca
Club Name Kinsmen Club of Cornwall
District # 6
Number of Members 26-40
Community Size Medium-sized community (20,000-100,000)
Community Type Urban
Project Name Buying People Groceries
Type of Project (check all that apply) National Day of KINdness ideas
If other, please describe
Was this project a fundraiser? No
Description of project Our Day of KINdness project, in a nutshell goes like this:


• Select Grocery Store. Typically, we do it at Food Basics, but have done it in the past at No Frills. We may switch it up this year as well. Try and select the grocery stores that you know are frequented by people who would shop at the less expensive stores.
• Phone in to Manager to obtain permission.
• Ask Manager if they’d like to participate by donating additional funds to the project.
• Obtain any Corporate sponsorships if possible. Invite them out for participation.
• Secure the work crew.
• Secure the kit from National (if required). Go online to the National site and order.
• Secure coffee and cookies to be served the day of. Either seek Corporate sponsorship or cover this in the budget or have the BoD approve the expense above and beyond your spending budget.

Resources Required: Typically the Chair of the event can set this up and run with it ~ or assign individuals to take care of certain areas (i.e. coffee and cookies, etc.)

Day of the Event:

• Arrive at your Grocery Store. Typically, we run the event starting at 10:00AM – 1PM (varies dependent on how the day goes).
• Meet the manager. If he supplied any additional funds, obtain from him.
• Obtain table from the manager and set up the coffee and cookie station. This can be in an area either after the cashes but preferable to be before to save on space and traffic in the checkout area. Typically, a couple of KIN manning the coffee & cookie station works best.
• Exchange monies for grocery gift cards. This is a better approach versus handling money on the spot with the cashiers and requiring change, etc… best to use the gift card – swipe and poof – all done.
• Arrange with the manager, the purchase of plastic grocery bags (comes from your budget ~ typically $20 in bags does the trick) so that your participating KIN can bag groceries at the checkout stations along with your crew of 2-3 that’ll be buying on the spot.
• Ensure the manager advises the cashiers that the bags are on the Kinsmen.
• Select your crew of 2 (3 people max) as representatives who’ll be buying the people’s groceries on the spot. (typically 2 works best so as to avoid being overbearing to the individual)
• The rest of your crews should be bagging groceries at the different checkouts.
• Assign a recon person (depending on how busy it is in the store). The recon will go around the store and eyeball people who might be in need (more detail below on how to spot one)
• Run through the process of buying!
• Retain all receipts (the cashiers can print out two receipts – one for you and one for the customer). This keeps the Treasurer happy where you can line up the check (typically made out to the grocery store direct <best approach for audit purposes> with the receipts on the spend.

Resources Required: Minimum 3 (1 for coffee/cookie station & two for buying the groceries). Although, ideally, the more the merrier. A good event would see at least 8 present (2 on coffee/cookies, 2 with the gift cards, 1 recon (optional), 3-4 grocery baggers)

Selection Process:

Dependent on the size of your budget – make the determination as to how many people you want to help out (i.e. a $500 budget should see the majority of people you’re helping range between $20-$60-$70 sized grocery orders – although this is merely a guideline and shouldn’t be the rule. If you see someone with a $100+ grocery order that’s going to be in need – make it happen!)

There’s no exact science to doing this ~ however ~ if you have a recon person – they can help identify individuals roaming the store – checking their lists against their budgets or counting out loud, the way they are dressed, etc..

Typically – what I look for – individuals – seniors that are not wearing shiny jewelry or expensive clothing (tells you they’re on CPP only in most cases) ~ seniors that are shopping with their kids, etc... Young families (OR single dads with their little one(s) or single moms with their little one(s) – if you know what I mean – sometimes they’ll be accompanied by mom (and or dad) for a ride to the grocery store. Other folks – the working poor – middle-aged folk or younger folk that you can tell by the way they’re dressed – could use the extra help. The way a person dresses to the grocery store sometimes speaks volumes as to their living conditions. One other thing I’ve taken note of – their shoes – tells a lot about a person – so always look at the shoes. If they’re shiny and new – chances are they’re OK. If they look like they’re many years old – chances are they focus on things to survive rather than good footwear.

Work with the cashiers – sometimes they know the “regulars” that need help and will eyeball you to come over and help them out. Also – at times you’ll either overhear or see a person at the cash, putting stuff back because they have too much stuff going above what they have to spend on groceries ~ I call those the sweet spot ones – because you know they are going to be gracious in accepting the helping hand and likely generate some tears in the process.

The approach:

Approach them (typically about 30 seconds before getting ready to pay for the stuff). Make sure to have your camera guy (either filming or for a picture at the same time (ask for permission after having filmed them or at the end of the video – chances are they are not going to decline based on the fact that you just bought their food --- NOTE: I don’t film all of them anymore – just the ones I think are going to be great – again – this isn’t a perfect science so is sometimes hit and miss!)

Ask how their day is going. Introduce yourself. Tell them what the day is about and then “on behalf of the Kinsmen Club of Cornwall(and call out any sponsors), we’d like to buy your groceries today). Generate tears.

Think that’s it!
Service Hours 1-20
Did you leverage this project as a way to recruit new members? No
If you answered yes to the question above, please explain: N/A
How was this project promoted in your community? It's a surprise event. NO Promo!
What were some challenges you faced with this project, and how could your project be improved? Been running this for three years now, multiple times a year.
What was the approximate budget for this project? $1,000-$5,000
If the project was a fundraiser, what were the sources of revenue for this project? N/A
If this was a fundraiser, how much money was raised (minus expenses)? Not Applicable
What were the expenses for this project? The Kinsmen Club of Cornwall budgets $2000 annually for this event. However, we break it up into three days: a day in December (prior to xmas), where we spend $500 of the budget and typically get a sponsorship to match and then our grocery store supplies another $100.

We then do our Day of KINdness where we spend $1000 of the budget. Also obtain another $500 in sponsorship and another $100 from the grocery store.

Then we do one final day in April with the final $500 and another $100 from the grocery store.
Is there anything else you would like to share that would assist another club in duplicating this project in their community? I started doing this three years ago where I found myself with a couple of hundred extra dollars from the typical buying coffee and stuff. I had seen a video of this during the xmas season that year where someone had done this. I thought - WOW - what a great, compassionate way of giving back!

Some of the impacts we had were incredible and one of our videos went viral across the country with over 50k views! That same video - was showed at the National Convention in Edmonton.

This would be an excellent project to adopt "outside of the Day of KINdness" across the Nation. For an organization to have a great impact on their community - reaching people that would normally not be reached via the regular recipients of existing projects - this works. I've adopted the notion - that if you want to have a significant impact where you are remembered - impact a person's bottom line revenue. Everyone has to eat. Everyone budgets for groceries. When you help alleviate that ~ that's the quan.

Happy to educate, chat with, or mentor anyone that may be interested in adopting this project across the country.

Dan Carbonnell