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Previously homeless entrepreneur among those behind $40K Kroger giveaway

The Decatur grocery giveaway has been inspiring more giving in the area. One woman explains why she got involved.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A heartfelt story that continues to spread joy and more giving has a personal connection for one woman who was also involved.

11Alive first brought you the story of Atlanta entrepreneurs paying for $40,000 in groceries for customers at a DeKalb County Kroger. That act of kindness has gone viral.

We introduced viewers to Jason Lobdell and the other guys. But some of the wives like Tronda Giles were there, too. She and her husband Brad own a successful home healthcare company now, but she grew up in homeless shelters on the receiving end of donations. 

"We had to move every 30 days, from one shelter to another. I remember spending Christmases there," said Giles. "I remember graduating from a shelter and even standing in line when it’s time to get your food and everything else."

As she got older, Giles continued to strive for success. 

"I came to Atlanta with about $50 in my pocket," she said.

Fast forward to this week and Giles said it was her idea to hand out gift cards to Kroger employees as they paid for customers' groceries.

"A lot of them are not being recognized because they’re not coming through that line but they are there," she said.

She also talked about how it made her feel to see the impact of generosity in the store.

"From people crying, to the joy, seeing all of that was just so wonderful," she said

Terrence Dortch the owner of a funeral home in Riverdale saw the 11Alive story and decided to do his part.

"It was heartfelt. So when I saw that, the first thing I thought was, 'What can I do?' I may not be able to give $40,000 but maybe I can do $4,000," said Dortch.

With part of his staff and two sons in tow, he headed to the Kroger in College Park - the same one he rode his bike to as a child. They gave out $4,000 in gift cards.

"No matter who you are, what type of business you own, or what you do that’s what it’s about," Dortch said. 

Giles said paying it forward, even with food or coffee in a drive-thru, is enough to keep spreading joy.

"Stay in the spirit of giving even when it’s not time to give," she said. "Keep your heart open for others so they can see how much joy you have for them."

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