Donuts on Black Friday

Donuts on Black Friday

Photographer Josh Eikenberry spends every Black Friday delivering free donuts and coffee to retail workers

Before he became a QA engineer, Josh Eikenberry worked in retail. “It kept me alive, but it was a terrible gig,” he told Good Turns. Especially in the big-box stores around Monroe, Michigan, where he lives, “people would be working Thanksgiving and Christmas and every other holiday, and no one would get to go home to their families.”

Though he had a great-grandfather who’d been an agitator for labor reform, Eikenberry decided to take a different tack. In 2011, then in his late 20s, he went out at midnight on Black Friday, still full from Thanksgiving dinner, and bought two dozen donuts and a tray full of coffees to give away to employees at the Wal-Mart where he used to work.

“Everyone was super happy,” he says, so he did the same thing the following year. But as he noticed more stores staying open Thanksgiving Day, he decided to expand his campaign. The third year, he raised $200 from friends and was able to deliver donuts and coffee to a bigger handful of stores around Monroe. And that was just the beginning.

“I’m of the unpopular opinion that there should always be some days that nobody works, and everyone just stays home with their families”

“It’s nice to show up unannounced at two in the morning and people are selling toasters at Kohl’s and here comes this dude with donuts for you. Nobody’s turned me away. In fact, the general manager of Kohl’s happened to be walking by when I was giving them out. She went to her office and got $40 and told me to spend it on more donuts,” Eikenberry recalls.

Which he did. “At the end of the night I still had about $60 left over, so I just gave it to the guys at Tim Horton’s [where he bought the donuts] as a tip.”

In 2015, Eikenberry, who also works as a portrait photographer, got organized. He put up a gofundme page and launched a small campaign on Facebook and Twitter. He raised just under $800, which let him purchase donuts and coffee not only for retail workers, but for a number of hospitals, police stations, and fire houses in the area as well — and still have more than $500 left over, which he took to the local food bank the next morning, much to their surprise.

This year, Eikenberry launched a new gofundme campaign, and has already raised more than $1,600. He hopes to be able to donate $1,000 to the food bank after all the donuts and coffee are paid for. And he has dreams of his donut campaign going wider still. “I’d love for it to expand beyond just local,” he says. “I’m only one person, I can’t deliver donuts to everybody.”

“A lot of people used to work in retail, and if we ‘escape,” it’s nice to pay it back,” he says. “Every year, I couldn’t go to Thanksgiving dinner, or I’d go late, or we didn’t have time or money to host Thanksgiving. I’m of the somewhat unpopular opinion that there should always be some days that nobody works, and everyone just stays home with their families.“

Eikenberry’s donut campaign is his way of bringing a bit of the Thanksgiving spirit to the people who can’t just stay home this year. And with any luck, it will inspire similar good turns.

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