January 16, 2015
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Winn-Dixie store No. 51 Floral Manager Judy Leach is glad for help from the company’s We Care fund after her family was struck by tragedy in 2013. ​

For Judy Leach, floral manager at Winn-Dixie store No. 51 in Jacksonville, Florida, 2013 was unimaginably heartbreaking. The mother of two sons and two daughters lost one son to tragedy in January and then lost the other in November.

Nijza, 23, died in January 2013 and Cornelius, 26, died in November, both in North Carolina. Then her struggle intensified when her adult daughter, unable to cope with the tragic loss of her brothers, was forced to put her three young children into her mother’s care. Judy already was raising her youngest daughter, a teenager, and she desperately needed help on all levels – from finances related to travel and both funeral arrangements to grief counseling.

“After having to pay for Nijza’s funeral and having to travel back to North Carolina, we tried to raise money,” she said. “I’m still paying for the funerals.”

That’s when one of her store directors recommended the Bi-Lo Holdings associate-giving We Care fund, which helps associates in times of need. She requested financial assistance from the program and within five days from her completed application she received a check.

“It helped me a lot. It really, truly did,” she said. “If it wasn’t for We Care, I don’t know where I would be today. I can thank God for We Care and for my Winn-Dixie family. I’m still going.”

Leach and store No. 51 Director Carl Heilman said the associates at the store are a tight-knit group and have provided much-needed support and help to Leach as she coped with her grief.

“We do become family,” Heilman said. “We try to look out for each other the best we can. Everyone’s aware of her situation, and we try to pick her up when she’s not having a good day. She does a great job. She’s a good associate’ she’d do anything for Winn-Dixie.”

Soon she will be a featured speaker at a local grief support group so she can help others, she said.

“I want to see if I can do it,” she said. “I think I can.”

Since its inception, We Care has provided emergency assistance to more than 2,000 associates with its recurring donation program and additional one-time donations. If you are interested in donating through weekly payroll deduction to the We Care fund, click here.

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