Coming up with raffle ideas for Russell Medical Foundation (RMF)’s crisis fund, director Tammy Jackson drew inspiration from a game show that’s making a comeback — “Supermarket Sweep.”
Grand prize winner Candice Gulley, director of Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, had three minutes Wednesday to fill an unlimited number of shopping carts with whatever she could get her hands on at Renfroe’s Market in Alexander City.
“You can’t have any alcohol and you can’t get cigarettes,” Jackson told the Girls Ranch residents who came to spectate. “(Gulley) can get anything else that she wants in this store.”
RMF’s “Great Grocery Giveaway” raised money for its crisis fund, which it created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help employees cover emergency costs like medical costs, childcare or storm damage.
For $20, participants entered a drawing for 10 Renfroe’s Market gift cards worth $200 each and a Supermarket Sweep as the grand prize. Renfroe’s co-owner Rob Renfroe provided the location.
“Out of the 10, 11 winners we’ve had, I think about five of them have paid it forward,” Jackson said.
One of those who paid it forward was original grand prize winner Regina Simmons in Dadeville.
“When I called to tell her (she won), she was excited,” Jackson said. “But she called me back a little later and said ‘I don’t need it. There’s somebody who needs it more.’”
Simmons offered her prize to the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, a chapter of Boys and Girls Ranches for Alabama and a Lake Martin Area United Way agency, which provides homes for abused, neglected or underprivileged children.
The ranch is usually reliant on food bank donations, with a grocery budget of $2 per child per day, Gulley said.
As director, Gulley was in charge of filling the carts Wednesday, alongside several “house parents” and girls — those with good grades got to attend — there to cheer her on.
Gulley managed to fill two carts in three minutes, starting in the produce aisle and ending at the cardboard cotton candy display, which she picked up and precariously balanced on her cart in the final 30 seconds.
“I almost got a leg cramp on Aisle 3,” Gulley said just after the clock ran out.
The total came out to $906.66, paid as agreed by RMF.
Gulley gave a rundown of her strategy.
“I was thinking of things we don’t normally get at the ranch,” she said. “Most of it is name-brand things. We can get off-brand ranch but there’s nothing like Hidden Valley.”
Gulley also went for name-brand cereal and expensive items like grapes and steak — piles of it. Another priority was cleaning supplies.
“We have a small budget for cleaning supplies and so things like laundry detergent, when you have 10 kids living in a house, that goes really fast,” she said. “And of course, some of the other stuff was just the stuff the girls wanted — soda and candy.”