Giraffe Heroes Database

Leirich, Julie

Not all heroes do Big Stuff. Take Julie Leirich of Beverly Hills, California. There she is, a cashier in a supermarket, chatting with customers, ringing up their groceries and seeing, at the back of the store, tons of good fruit and vegetables being thrown away. Something was wrong. It didn't square with the other images etched in her memory: all the people in nearby Santa Monica she’d seen roaming the streets and the beach, hungry.
So Leirich summoned up her courage and began to secretly take that excess produce out of the store and take it to hungry people. It made sense. It felt right. But Leirich knew that taking food from the store was not allowed. And then one day her boss said, essentially, Come into my office; I want to speak with you.
Leirich was apprehensive. "I thought, this is it. I'm losing my job. But worse, I feared he would make me stop."
Turned out, her boss liked what she was doing. Not only did he not fire her, not only did he wholeheartedly approve of what she was doing, he added more of the store’s products to the haul. Then some reporters picked up the story, and everyone knew about it; the enterprise took off. "People began volunteering as they went through my checkout lane," says Leirich. She organized all those volunteers into her own organization, The Loving Cup.
The Loving Cup went on to redistribute about 6½ tons of food a month. Leirich got restaurants, markets, and delicatessens to contribute their leftovers, and she has about 40 volunteers to help collect and distribute it all. Leirich herself regularly walks up and down Santa Monica Beach, talking with the homeless and personally handing them good food.
A woman who runs a soup line in the same neighborhood says, "We call her our food angel. These people get to eat fried chicken every Saturday because Julie stays two hours after working an eight-hour day and waits for the leftovers." And a regular in Leirich's checkout line donated enough leftovers from a Christmas party to feed 100 people.
Julie Leirich isn’t a publicity seeker. She's not a worldwide motivational speaker. She isn't risking her life to save others. She just risked her job, and put in a lot of time, to do something she knew was needed.

Age when commended: adult (20-64)
Year commended: 1987
Occupation: Business person
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