Buying Donuts for retail workers on black friday

No Matter What, The Donuts Must Go On

Even a brush with death can’t stop this good samaritan

Josh Eikenberry had “a crazy-ass year.” But that isn’t going to stop him from carrying out the Thanksgiving tradition he started in 2011 and has kept up every year since—including last year when we spoke to him, and two years ago, when he was the subject of the very first post on the Good Turns blog.

That tradition is an important one to Eikenberry: For each of the past seven years, he has spent Thanksgiving night and into the next day handing out free donuts to retail workers who are stuck at work instead of at home with their families. “I usually start right after Thanksgiving dinner, around 8 or 9 o’clock, whenever I get out of my aunt’s place,” Eikenberry told Good Turns recently, “and I just start delivering donuts. I usually hit the big-box retailers first, they’re usually open overnight. Then I hit the smaller stores as they open up at 5, 6, 7 am. Then I hit up the mall.”

“It’s a very small, tiny good deed, multiplied hundreds of times”

Eikenberry’s commitment to his mission is remarkable, even without considering the fact that he nearly died between last Thanksgiving and this one. “I got sick in the middle of June,” Eikenberry says. “I went to my primary care physician, and he was like, ‘It’s just the flu.’ But it kept getting worse. I was hallucinating, I wasn’t sleeping, I was throwing up all the time. I was getting over-hydrated, and then dehydrated. I stopped drinking entirely. This went on for three weeks.”

Eventually, he found his way to the University of Michigan hospital—and just in the nick of time: it turned out he was suffering from complications from an undiagnosed case of diverticulitis. “They said, ‘Oh yeah, your colon exploded, you’re not going anywhere,'” Eikenberry recalls. “My sigmoid colon had perforated and I had massive sepsis. My gut was filled with a whole bunch of crap. I needed two emergency surgeries. I was in the surgical ICU for a week, then the regular ICU. They took out a chunk of my colon, so I poop in a bag now. I only got back to work in September. They said if I would have waited another day or two I would have died.”

While Eikenberry will still make his usual rounds this Thanksgiving, he has added one institution to his fried-dough itinerary: “The main reason I am alive is because of the U. of M. hospital,” he said. So he has purchased 60 dozen donuts that are earmarked just for staff there. “This is my little way of paying them back somehow.”

While the $480 for the hospital donuts will come from donations raised mainly on GoFundMe, the balance of what Eikenberry raises will go, as it does every year, to a local food back, at the Monroe County Opportunity Program. The donuts for retail and mall workers Eikenberry buys with his own cash. “Last year I spent at least $200 on donuts, and that was about $10 per dozen,” he recalls. “Each person gets one donut. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but 250 donuts is 250 people I’m handing a donut to. It’s a very small, tiny good deed, multiplied hundreds of times.”

Though Good Turns has spoken to Eikenberry three times now, it occurred to us that we never hear much about the donuts themselves. For instance, do the recipients of his generosity have a favorite flavor? “I always just get assorted,” he says. “I just open the box up and I get mobbed and they just pluck them from the box. It’s equal opportunity. Although I have noticed that some people will be like, I only want half a donut, and will leave half in the box. Nobody wants to give out half a donut, so I just end up eating it.”

Half a donut is better than none, and we’re glad Eikenberry is around to enjoy it—after a fashion. “I actually don’t even like donuts that much,” he admits. “I like one type of donut. The rest I can take or leave. I like a stuffed Boston creme donut, the kind that are stuffed with the sugary custard. If I could just drink that custard, I’d be set. Just give me that straight in a jar.”

Or if you don’t have any custard handy, you can donate to Eikenberry’s cause, either on GoFundMe, or on Facebook. Either way, the donuts must go on.

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