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Madison woman partners with grocer to give the ‘gift of mobility’

Published: Jan. 16, 2021 at 5:37 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Getting from place to place is an everyday activity many can take for granted. But a new partnership between two community members is hoping to make transportation accessible for everyone.

Throughout February, Metcalfe’s will be taking part in a promotion called “Give the Gift of Mobility.” According to president and co-owner Tim Metcalfe, it was the “brainchild” of a Madison woman who wrote to him in an email.

Ellina Seckel, a pharmacist, wanted to find some way to help Madisonians experiencing homelessness.

A year-and-a-half ago, Seckel said a man had approached her and her colleagues and asked for money. When one of her colleagues replied, “’If I give you a dollar, will you stop bothering us for food?’” Seckel said she sat frozen and did not know what to do.

“The gentleman then bent down on one knee and physically lowered himself below us, and he said, ‘I’m really just looking for some help to buy food.’”

“[That moment] sat with me in my heart and my mind,” she continued. “I felt like I had to do something.”

Compelled by her story, Metcalfe agreed to partner and suggested that bus passes would be a practical way to help. “Some are just starting over and need to rebuild their personal profile by getting a driver’s license to get a job or a social security card to get a job. To do those things, you need mobility,” he said.

Shoppers can make small donations or round their grocery bill up during checkout. Funds will go to Madison nonprofit Friends of the State Street Family, which will then distribute the passes as needed.

Metcalfe, who had previously brought bus passes to a homeless shelter, said, “We had people crying as we were getting it to them. It was such a precious gift. It was almost like the gift of hope in a way. They could see their way getting out of their current situation.”

Metcalfe said the goal is to raise between 10 to 15 thousand dollars. Typically, he said his store raises around 5 thousand dollars on similar donation projects, “but this time of year, there’s such a need in the community.”

Currently, the initiative is looking for other grocers and community partners to join in this effort. Seckel is also accepting direct donations via communication through givethegiftofmobility@gmail.com.

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