A group of people, holding signs, set up in front of Smithfield Foods early Wednesday morning. They weren’t there to protest. Instead, they had a different message for the plant’s workers.
Many Smithfield Foods workers wake up before the sun, and go in for a long day on the production line. A different line greeted them on their way into work.
“We just want to thank them,” Craig Lloyd said.
Community members grabbed signs and handed out gratitude to plant workers who have faced a tough and heartbreaking few months. They held up signs with the words “thank you” in several different languages.
“These people are on the frontline helping our food supply in America, and we’re so thankful they come into work,” Lloyd said.
Smithfield reopened last week after closing for more than three weeks when it became one of the top COVID-19 hotspots.
“I’ll stay here. I’m very proud of working here,” Renee Aaker said.
Even after much national criticism, Renee Aaker is defending the place where she’s worked for 26 years.
“The plant has done so much for us. They have brought us in, told us what’s going on. We have put up barriers and they have paid us for what we’ve done,” Renee Aaker said.
It doesn’t solve everything, but this parade is a small gesture of kindness for the men and women who, despite long weeks of challenges, keep getting up and keep going to work.
“Maybe they didn’t even know people cared. We want to thank them and we care a lot about what they do and their health and their families, because they live with us,” Lloyd said.
You can say it in many different ways and in many different languages, but let this be a wake-up call to make sure you say it to the people who need to hear it.
KELOLAND News spoke with an organizer of the parade, and asked if it was affiliated with or paid for by Smithfield. She said no. She says a group of community leaders and community members put it together to do something nice for the workers. They used their own money to pay for the signs.