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Winn-Dixie caretakers caring for the community

By Staff | Apr 1, 2020

For Pine Island Winn-Dixie store manager, Dan Loughren, caring for people isn’t a matter of policy but human decency. Having been the store manager for 13 years, minus a small hiatus in which he was moved to another store, Loughren admits he’s come to care for islanders like they’re his own family.

In the midst of a time when the public is anxious at the thought of picking up the COVID-19 virus from being in enclosed spaces with other people, Loughren has been either picking up seniors and taking them shopping at the store, or dropping off groceries to folks who can’t get out to get them on their own.

“I was brought up to help other people,” said Loughren. “I learned that from my parents at a pretty young age. I enjoy helping people.”

Loughren says the people who work at his store are often found going out of their way for others, not for the glory or recognition of it, but simply because it’s the right thing to do. He concedes that Pine Islanders have their own brand of generosity, citing the example of Salvation Army bell ringing done out in front of the store each holiday season.

“One year we were fourth or fifth in the whole county on dollar amount donations,” said Loughren. “The generosity around the island is just unreal. It’s the same thing with our food pantry bin out front. If something is buy one get one free, our customers will donate the second item into the food bin.”

Although Loughren has witnessed his share of anxiety over the spread of COVID-19 at this point, he said the employees at the store have been great about going above and beyond in this time of uncertainty to provide groceries and service to the community. He said the same of officials at Winn-Dixie headquarters, explaining their desire to help out by sending Plexiglas register shields to protect cashiers from being exposed to the public, as well as floor stickers to mark optimal spacing between customers when they are standing in line. Loughren said employees’ calling off hasn’t been much of a problem, as they are all eager to help out, and Winn-Dixie is offering employee bonuses, in recognition of their willingness to work at this time.

“We have a good president, CEO and district manager, that are very genuine people,” said Loughren.

Many of the islanders who frequent the store as shoppers have become friends with Loughren personally over the years, accounting for his desire to do more than just his job as store manager.

“When I’m walking to my car at the end of the day, I have to stop and talk to people,” said Loughren.